The Metropolitan Opera 2011 manufacturing of Rossini’s 1828 comedian opera Le Comte Ory got here to Chicago on Sunday afternoon, serving as its Lyric Opera Premiere and that includes the celebrated bel canto tenor Lawrence Brownlee within the title position. In a present initially directed for the Met by Bartlett Sher, Revival Director Kathleen Smith Belcher produced a rollicking, frothy, bumptious model of the piece however, alas, it was all the time amusing however virtually by no means humorous.
The piece is about right here as an opera-within-an-opera. The set by Michael Yeargan is sort of a massive barn with a big raised platform stage and footlights and a pullable curtain behind to restrict the motion. It begins with the doorway of a silent character referred to as The Prompter, really extra of a Stage Supervisor (a bodily agile if frenetic Kirk Osgood) who inspects the stage and directs (and amusingly spars) with forged and crew and is a continuing presence at his desk at excessive left and proper sides of the stage.
The opera is a typical guy-tries-to seduce-woman-in disguises situation because the Rely Ory disguises himself first as a prophetic “hermit” and later as a nun (!) with a purpose to acquire entrance to the rooms of the Countess Adele. By setting the piece in a theatre, the manufacturing doubles down on the already theatrical nature of the opera, steadily over powering the slim and easy story with melodramatic gestures and an performing fashion that’s virtually farcical.
Sadly, this over-the-top theatricality robs the characters of their humanity and depth. And whereas Sher and Belcher hold the piece shifting shortly and with fixed comedian enterprise, we’re at pains to care about any of the characters.
The exception is the sensible efficiency by Brownlee, who is basically the one performer who adapts the fashion as his personal and manages to be each amusing and heartfelt on the identical time. He was chargeable for the few generalized laughs within the efficiency, particularly as his first entrance as “the hermit.” And his singing all through the efficiency was merely spectacular—excessive notes with no trace of pressure, fantastically produced tone, wealthy use of vocal colorings. Brownlee is aware of his Rossini fashion, and the bel canto fireworks typically take the breath away.
His vocal equal was the gorgeous coloratura soprano Kathryn Lewek as Countess Adele, a voice of magnificence, versatility, and able to astonishing coloratura with each notice a crystalline delight. Her scena close to the top of Act One garnered the biggest ovation of the afternoon, and she or he was deservedly greeted with the identical at her curtain name. I need to say she was a sufferer of the overly farcical gesturing and face-making, nevertheless. Her “silent film” performing fashion simply didn’t work.
There was ready help for the leads from Kayleigh Decker within the pants position of Isolier, Countess Adele’s cousin and would-be lover. The mezzo sang with grace and attraction and an affecting sense of desperation as she tried to cope with Ory and his competitors for the Countess. Italian bass Mirco Palazzi made his Lyric debut as Ory’s tutor, a personality who primarily serves as a technique to narrate the Rely’s scheming and disguising. He sings nicely, however is usually a dramatic cipher.
An indisposed Joshua Hopkins was changed as Ory’s pal Raimbaud by the gifted Ian Rucker, although Mr. Rucker’s baritone appeared a dimension too small for the home and appeared a bit understated when collaborating in Ory’s hijinks. Zoie Reams was a gracious and suitably dark-voiced Ragonde, Countess Adele’s companion.
I’m very grateful, as all the time, for the terrific work of the Lyric Opera Refrain, who threw themselves headlong into the boisterous antics whereas singing with gusto and a palpable sense of enjoyable. The scene with all the males’s refrain dressed as nuns, alternating between drunken carousing and chanting hymns (every time Ragonde enters to verify on them), was a delight.
The Lyric Opera Orchestra thrilled beneath the fashionable baton of Enrique Mazzola, enjoying with pleasant fervor amongst moments of quiet magnificence that made a superb distinction with the extra riotous scenes. Mazzola actually appears to “get” bel canto and significantly the French repertoire and has introduced this experience to a number of Lyric productions in recent times.
Authentic lighting designer Brian MacDevitt and revival designer Chris Maravich did a superb job, protecting with the brightness of the rating and efficient within the Act Two storm scene. Catherine Zuber’s costumes are colourful and efficient, with the refrain achieved in “French rural” fashion.
I ponder what a less complicated manufacturing may do to deliver out the humanity within the libretto. It’s definitely in Rossini’s music. I stored considering that this manufacturing was a beautiful cake with waaaay an excessive amount of frosting.
Images: Todd Rosenberg