Monday, November 21, 2022
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Tableau vivant « parterre field

The Metropolitan Opera has wanted a substitute for its outdated manufacturing of “Lucia di Lammermoor” for so long as most of us have been going to opera. It obtained one, and unveiled it Monday night time on the gala opening of its eightieth season on the opera home. It’s an enchancment, all proper; something they may presumably have discovered could be. However it’s a good distance from the “Lucia” a few of us have dreamed about.

Margherita Wallmann, the director, and Attilio Colonnello, the designer, have each labored from the oldest-possible interpretation of the early romantic Italian repertory: that that is all terribly skinny music, dramatically absurd and conceived for nothing however vocal show, and that the right option to venture this fashion is to go about it in an old school method. Mr. Colonnello has designed a collection of murky, ponderous settings; the buildings mirror a spot of college-campus Gothic, and the exteriors are rank with underbrush and Pre-Raphaelite litter. Miss Wallmann has translated this all into motion that seldom strikes, however spends most of its time putting poses.

All this may need been acceptable at a while prior to now, however it isn’t at this time. The principle purpose that it isn’t is that we’ve in our technology two nice singers, Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland, who’ve restored this repertory to its rightful respectability. Miss Sutherland, if something, is much more the specialist than her colleague, since she and her husband Richard Bonynge have dug deeply into the entire matter of vocal coloration, ornamentation and phrasing distinctive to this repertory.

Due to this fact, having in Miss Sutherland a girl who isn’t solely a specialised Donizetti stylist, but in addition a stupendously endowed singer by any customary, one would have thought that the Metropolitan may need gone all the best way along with her, shining up the seems to be of “Lucia” in addition to the sound. The good disappointment with the brand new manufacturing is that it fails fully on this regard. It’s, on the entire, merely a extra large and elaborate model of the outdated one, a little bit cleaner, extra colourful and higher lit, however in the identical spirit. And so, alas, is Margherita Wallmann’s path.

Let me cite one instance. It ought to be clear to anybody who reads the libretto that the well-known Sextet is a basic and superior instance of the Ensemble of Perplexity, a second when the motion freezes, time stops, and every character examines his feelings privately. Ideally, the stage motion ought to mirror this in its non-action. In Miss Wallmann’s conception it doesn’t. Edgardo arrives, flings down his cloak; there’s a momentary freeze, however, because the music begins the principals and choristers start, a wierd form of methodical saunter across the stage. A number of choristers group themselves in a form of tableau-vivant of Rembrandt’s “Night time Watch” (with costumes to match: I believed the Ashton household was alleged to be bankrupt). Two others sneak up behind Edgar with pole-axes, deterred from soiled deeds solely, presumably, by the fantastic thing about the music. By choreographing this scene the director turns it right into a burlesque, a betrayal of Donizetti’s intent.

A small level, maybe, however one symptomatic of the good disservice finished to an opera which – it’s time somebody realized – should benefit higher therapy. “Lucia” isn’t any dramatic masterpiece by cosmic requirements, however it’s simply that inside its personal framework: tightly wrought and superbly deliberate. It’s entitled to our respect, and to extra respect than this from its producers.

Another level, earlier than we get to the excellent news of the night. If “Lucia” is to return alive this present day, it wants a far better measure of enlightenment within the pit than it obtained underneath Silvio Varviso’s baton. There isn’t a purpose why Donizetti’s easy, guitar-like accompaniment figures need to sound like dumplings plopping right into a stewpot. There may be delicacy to his scoring and it’s – once more inside its modest limits – infinitely different. To carry this out wants no much less management and orchestral perception than does the shaping of a Mozart or Wagner rating. Mr. Varviso’s tempi have been merely obedient, and the precise sounds he obtained out of his orchestra always betrayed inadequate regard for the niceties of the stunning scoring.

Below the circumstances, one’s admiration for the night’s vocal stage should transcend all bounds, Miss Sutherland was in gorgeous kind. Her voice, it appears to me, is consistently enhancing within the path of improved placement and projection. She nonetheless has her mannered moments, occasions during which phrases all however disappear underneath a form of stylized crooning (her “Regnava nel silenzio” within the first act was an instance), however they’re turning into fewer. Actually there have been extra phrases to be heard, and subsequently extra dramatic sense, in her “Mad Scene” than there had been three years in the past. Her performing, too, has gained enormously in grace and assurance. This all implies that her efficiency final night time was merely one of many nice occasions within the historical past of our outdated opera home.

If one should nit-pick, her excessive E on the finish, of the Mad Scene was considerably safer than the one on the finish of the primary half. Additionally, she has dug up a wierd trill-like ornamentation on the finish of “Quando rapita” that she didn’t use right here three seasons in the past, one which tends to power the tone away from the following prime be aware.

These are minor quibbles, nevertheless, and don’t have anything to do with the factors about Miss Sutherland beforehand made. Whereas with reference to her earlier performances right here, it’s also price noting that one – simply one- of the standard cuts has been restored on this new manufacturing, a brief trio for Lucia, Enrico and Raimondo halfway within the Mad Scene. That leaves nearly 52 extra cuts to be closed earlier than we will have the rating because the composer wrote it.

Sandor Konya, the, Edgardo, is considerably extra of an all-purpose good singer than an awesome stylist, however he sang together with his normal excessive competence and with an actual feeling at occasions for the particular wants of the rating. Robert Merrill’s Enrico additionally had its moments, though dramatic incisiveness isn’t one in all his trump playing cards. To Mr. Merrill’s credit score, at the very least, is the truth that he didn’t merely flee the nation after one take a look at the Act-Two-Scene-One set, some nonsense with a flaming brazier that might be extra acceptable for Ulrica’s collapse “The Masked Ball.” Bonaldo Giaiotti’s workmanlike Raimondo and Charles Anthony’s acceptable Arturo rounded out the night.

The triumph belonged to Miss Sutherland, nevertheless, and to her alone. With out wishing to detract from her glory, it ought to nonetheless be famous {that a} “Lucia” manufacturing that outcomes solely in a triumph for its prima donna is a “Lucia” manufacturing half-realized at greatest. This specific prima donna, being a girl with brains and dedication, would in all probability be the primary to agree.

Born on at the present time in 1935 tenor Luciano Pavarotti.

Birthday anniversaries of composer Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872). soprano Gilda Dalla Rizza (1892), bass Herbert Alsen (1906), conductor Jerzy Semkow (1928) and tenor Bruce Brewer (1941).

On at the present time in 1950 Irving Berlin‘s musical Name Me Madam opened on Broadway.

Comfortable birthday to soprano Elizabeth Blancke-Biggs.



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