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Subject: Re: Don Pasquale - London 27/11/04
From: "G. Nijland" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Nijland
Date:Mon, 29 Nov 2004 22:45:37 +0100
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I couldn't agree more with Timothy Oldroyd in calling Bruno Campanella 'a
hack'. I hate to put down people since I presume that they are doing their
utmost. But in this case I have my doubts. I wasn't at Covent Garden for Don
Pasquale. But I watched Guillaume Tell at MEZZO, last Saterdaynight
conducted by 'maestro' Campanella. I also was so much looking forward. A
Tell in French is rare. Yet, despite the good singers (Thomas Hamspon c.s.),
the good direction and the wonderful lightning, I -like Timothey - stayed
stoney faced. Already during the ouverture - mon Dieu isn't that the
ouverture to end all ouvertures? - he was more a butcher than a conductor.
The ballets in the first act were mostly ridicilously slow. The singers
weren't helped at all. In short: there simply was no 'flow' in that
performance.

How come this man is working in the most prestigious houses?

G?rard.


----- Original Message -----
From: "Timothy Oldroyd" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Monday, November 29, 2004 6:51 PM
Subject: Don Pasquale - London 27/11/04


> I attended this transplant from the Maggio Musicale on its first outing in
> London on 27 November. Having had vivid happy memories of this delightful
opera
> at the ROH in the mid 1970s (Cotrubas, Alva, Evans and Wixell) I was so
much
> looking forward to renewing my acquaintance with this sparkling work.
>
> In the event, I stood stoney faced throughout the entire evening.  This
> project though it promised a lot on paper, failed on almost every count
and I felt
> that even this opening night audience was less than enamoured of what
should
> have been a pre Christmas treat. I might have had more patience with the
mix
> bag of vocalists had there been any sense of theatre, of fun, of telling a
story
> and sharing this conspiracy with the audience. But as there was no farce,
> there could be no pathos in the revelation of Pasquale's foibles and
ultimately
> no caring for the characters or their situation.
>
> One of the main problems with clearly telling this little fable, was the
> elaborate but cumbersome set - the well worn familiar idea of a doll's
house
> opening to reveal a cross cut of 9 rooms in the home of Pasquale. This
looked
> expensive and allowed for "action" to be taking place throughout the
house.  Chief
> advantage of such a design was to show motivation and give continuity and
> fluidity to the characters' entrances and exits but, as the chief
characters
> showed little evidence of having received ANY direction (Jonathan Miller)
this was
> all moot.  Perhaps if Mr Miller spent less time moaning to the press about
> how despises the international opera scene and yet wondering aloud why he
isnt
> receiving many contracts of late, he might have provided the goods on this
> occasion.    The extensive layout of the set also demanded that every room
be used
> and so important confrontational scenes took place in several  at once,
> Pasquale running to his bedroom to escape Sofronia's castigations and yet
she
> remaining in situ on the other side of the house. The potential for the
ludicrous
> first confrontation vs Norina and Pasquale went for nothing as it took
place
> through a semi opened door.  The  supernumeraries evidently HAD received
> direction and so we were constantly distracted by the antics of Pasquale's
servants
> endlessly baking bread, cleaning house, making beds and - of course -
sneezing
> into pillowcases. These cameos were expert, unlike the principals who,
with
> the exception of Allesandro Corbelli, seemed at a loss.
>
> Costumes (Isabella Bywater) were absolutely hideous,  most noticeably poor
> Juan Diego Florez, trussed up in a blond wig and looking like something
out of
> the Marschallin's grande levee.
>
> The lacklustre direction of musical matters was evident from the very
first
> bars of the overture with that ubiquitous hack, Bruno Campanella once more
back
> in charge, transforming Donizetti's sparkling mock heroic overture into a
> dirge, full of pointed rallentandi and pregnant pauses, when the piece
cries out
> for a madcap gallop into the first scene and the setting of the plot.
>
> Of the principals only Alessandro Corbelli had the complete measure of his
> role, relishing the text and creating a genuine character despite a voice
worn
> with time.  Juan Diego Florez brought his customary brilliant tone to the
music
> of Ernesto but little in the way of genuine pathos and feeling to his
> character. No doubt this assumption will improve out of all recognition
with time and
> in light of  the musical and dramatic liabilities surrounding him it is
not
> surprising that he looked very uncomfortable. In spite of his remarkable
and
> proven vocal gifts, he is still a young singer who needs strong direction
and
> didnt appear to get it on this occasion.  Simone Alaimo has neither the
weight
> of voice nor theatrical abilities to make us even begin to care about
> Pasquale's plight.
>
> Most curious of all was the appearance of Tatiana Lisnic as a Norina.  The
> voice managed to sound both acidulous and muffled at the same time with no
> coloratura ability and no top notes.  The idea that this Norina could ever
have
> been called upon to play a minx and enter into the conspiracy against
Pasquale
> was laughable, lacking as she was in almost every aspect of stagecraft and
> histrionic ability. Had Miller tried to give her direction and simply
given up or,
> like Florez, was she perhaps left to fend for herself?  She seemed more at
> ease after the interval but couldn't shake off her drab mitteleuropaische
> Putzfrau demanour. Covent Garden at one time paid its singers in a
currency of their
> choice and I can only assume that the current exchange rate between
sterling
> and the current Moldovan currency is advantageous to the opera house at
this
> time.
>
> Tim
>
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