|Act I: everyone laments unwise choices|
Mauricio Benini led the orchestra in an account of the score more competent than engaging. Tempi problems beset the first act, especially, as the orchestra got in front of the singers. I appreciated, though, Benini's recognition of the score's liveliness, and fine use of dynamic shading to bring out contrasts in repeated sections. The well-trained chorus acquitted themselves admirably of their considerable duties. Anne-Carolyn Bird made a vocally pleasant and pertly self-important Giannetta. As Belcore, Mariusz Kwiecien swaggered with more justification than the vain sergeant often has. Kwiecien, vocally smooth and extremely suave, was a suitor more impetuous than importunate. (When the order to move on came, he seemed far from loath to leave with pleasant memories rather than a permanent attachment.) Ambrogio Maestri's warm and ample voice is a great fit for Dulcamara, and he handled the role's linguistic demands with native confidence. Maestri had good chemistry with the would-be lovers, as well; what I didn't see from him was a sense of any underlying social or political motivation, but I'm inclined to blame the production for this. Similarly let down by the production's lack of focus was Matthew Polenzani. Polenzani sang attractively, stylishly, and with impressive command of phrasing and dynamics... and I got very little idea of who this Nemorino was. His and Adina's mutual attempts at manipulation show neither in a very good light. He has gained confidence, by the end, but wisdom? Still, his wistful Act II aria was shaped with real grace. Anna Netrebko solved the problem of being let down by the production by romping all over it. The weight and dark timbre of her voice are surprising in the role (I kept thinking of Verdi heroines) but she sang it with welcome panache. Despite her occasional tendency to sit at the bottom of the pitch, Netrebko's forthright earthiness was very welcome in the role of the literate and fastidious landowner. She brought a much-needed infusion of sensuality to the production, which--for all its promised insights--lacks even the solid virtues of a good Bordeaux.
Curtain call photos:
|Cast and conductor|
|Production team (tepidly applauded)|