What an impressive performance I heard from Karita Mattila last evening in the Met's new FIDELIO production! She's truly wonderful both vocally and in command of the acting requirements posed by this role.
I've seen countless great sopranos portray this heroine: Nilsson, Jones, Behrens, and Rysanek, to name four. However, none, in my opinion, was as successful in portraying a boy as was this superb Finnish artist. Vocally, too, one never had the feeling that she was pushing, and yet in the Family Circle her voice sounded simply glorious! Her performance was unusually well thought-out with a wealth of subtle touches. She was obviously a great hit with the audience, too, judging from the ovations.
Rene Pape was the other "star" of the opera for me. He's an exceptionally fine actor with a truly imposing-sounding voice. Needless to say, the Met Orchestra played superbly!
I was intrigued with the staging of the first act. It always sustained my interest; however, I prefer more traditional settings - as I've enjoyed in Vienna, for example. I simply HATED the way the second act unfolded. First, visually it is far too dark; one really doesn't even see Florestan until well into the act. It is extremely annoying to watch a stage where virtually nothing is visible except a seemingly out-of-place fluorescent light tube! Then, near the end of the act, once again one is confronted with glaring lights focused out into the audience - a mere annoyance that one tries to avoid (with difficulty). Neither did I care for the overly-exuberant dancing that took place at the conclusion of the work. It seemed more suitable to a light Donizetti comedy, I thought.
But - - - the new FIDELIO is worth seeing for Rene Pape and the simply wonderful Karita Mattila. I've watched countless females portraying male roles (Handel, Mozart, and Strauss operas come to mind); however, Karita Mattila surpasses them all is this regard. She looked like a boy, which she made extraordinary effort to accomplish, and her movements were always very masculine, even including some jumping off steps and daring high ladder-climbing. She's certainly a real asset to the Met and a first-class artist! I've liked her in the other roles I've seen and heard her perform, but in this one she certainly outdoes herself! - Don't miss seeing it!