By Joel Kasow
NEW YORK, 15 MARCH 2012 Business continues as usual at the
Metropolitan Opera, with two new productions being shown on PBS (check
local listings) after their HD screenings in movie theaters throughout the
world. Donizettis Anna Bolena had already been seen early in
2011 when the same production with the same protagonist (from Vienna) was
televised throughout Europe. Anna Netrebko in the title role sings now
with greater assurance but there are still moments when she is
dramatically absent, a fatal flaw in such a work.
Ekaterina Gubanova gets through the music allotted to Jane Seymour, but
she is surely more of a Verdi mezzo than the light-voiced soprano the
composer had in mind, but that seems to be a concept that eludes most
casting directors today. Ildar Abdrazakov is too congenial as Henry VIII,
lacking the inner strength that should define his character. Stephen
Costello gets through the fiendish music of Percy, but with little of the
The only member of the cast who offers a totally satisfying portrayal
is Tamara Mumford as Smeton, but she suffers as does the entire cast
from the drastic use of the scissors so that few arias are left intact.
Most distressing is the uninspired production of David McVicar is he
doing too much these days, spreading himself too thin as he seems content
to move around his forces, occasionally imposing action upon the players,
but then it would be difficult to be inspired by Robert Joness
serviceable sets and Jenny Tiramanis sober costumes. Marco Armiliatos
conducting is supportive of the singers, but reveals little individuality
or identity with the composer.
Mariusz Kwiecien (center) in the title role of
Mozart's Don Giovanni.
Photo: Courtesy of Marty
Don Giovanni is another story, for Fabio Luisis lithe reading
of the score captures the Mozartean essence while leaving the singers room
to be expressive. Michael Grandages serviceable production in Christopher
Orams unit set and costumes suffers from hyper-activity, such as Elvira
comforting Anna during "Il mio Tesoro" or the multitudes looking on during
"Batti, batti". Marius Kwecien in the title role is sufficiently imposing
on all fronts to be convincing, as is Luca Pisaronis Leoporello. Barbara
Frittolis Elvira avoids the hysteria that some singers bring to the role,
while convincing us of her love of the reprobate. Marina Rebekah sings an
excellent Anna, but she hasnt much sense of the stage, while Ramon Vargas
sings the hell out of Ottavio. Mojca Erdman is nothing special as Zerlina,
lacking the vocal warmth that should permeate her two arias. But it is
truly Luisis evening, justifying the managements faith in him.
Headline image: Anna Netrebko as Anne Boleyn and
Ildar Abdrazakov as Henry VIII in Donizetti's Anna
Joel Kasow is the Operanet editor at Culturekiosque. He
has been opera critic for Opera (U.K.) and Opera News (U.S.A) for thirty
years and was elected to the International Music Critics Association
(UNESCO) in 1996. Long before the existence
of "blogs", Mr. Kasow kept an Opera Diary for Culturekiosque. Opera
fans can access the archive of his intensely personal, ongoing commentary
on the opera world here.
For collectors of opera and vocal recordings, please click here to access
Operanet's archive of CD and DVD reviews.
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