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Subject: I used to be a VESPRI VIRGIN (but not now!)
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Date:Wed, 15 Dec 2004 12:03:50 EST
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I finally have gotten around to posting about my very long Saturday this past 
weekend at the Met attending the matinee of Verdi's I VESPRI SICILIANI and 
the evening performance of Handel's RODELINDA. It;s funny, but with so many 
operas that I attend each year, these were both virgin experiences for me as I had 
never seen them on stage before!
I guess I can easily say that both experiences were well worth it, but want 
to post on each one separately.

Conductor-Frederic Chaslin
Production-John Dexter
Sets-Josef Svoboda
Costumes-Jan Skalicky

Tebaldo-Eduardo Valdes
Roberto-Sebastian Catana
Di Bethune-Peter Volpe
Vaudemont-Andrew Gangestad
Manfredo-Tony Stevenson
Elena-SONDRA RADVANOVSKY
Danieli-Ronald Naldi
Ninetta-Jane Bunnell
Guido de Monforte-LEOP NUCCI
Arrigo-FRANCISCO CASANOVA
Giovanni da Procida-SAMUEL RAMEY

This was about as good as Verdi can get at the Met. While the boring steps of 
the set don't offer much, this production does center on the drama and the 
singing, and the singers were all in excellent form. Many people who wrote about 
the radio broadcast, said there was an apparent wobble in Mr. Ramey's voice, 
but this must have been much less apparent in the house. Indeed, it was some 
of his best singing in recent years. The costumes don't offer much with the 
French dressed in blue medieval looking quilted outfits with hats that make them 
look like aliens from Star Trek or some such show! The Sicilians are in basic 
black, with the finale offering lots of wedding white. The star of the show 
was unquestionably Ms. Radvanovsky who hit every note spot on and gave great 
conviction to her part from the very start. Her first aria could easily have 
incited her fellow countrymen to riot, which they did.

Leo Nucci, who I had seen in an impressive RIGOLETTO last May, is still an 
impressive baritone at age 62 and offers up artistry that anyone could admire. 
His Montforte was a lesson in what a Verdi baritone should be!

Many people might poopoo Mr. Casanova for his size, but unlike some other 
huge tenors, he seems to be very comfortable moving about the set (especially 
running up and down the monstrous staircase all the time). Not only did he move 
with ease and adroitness, but he sang the role of Arrigo with great lyricism 
and feeling. I especially liked it when he called Montforte, "Padre" and the 
latter tried to lay his hand on Arrigo, but the son moved away. These small 
touches give us much more insight into the characters and how they interact and 
feel about each other.

Not to be outdone by her fellow singers, it seemed Ms. Radvanovsky always had 
a "one-better" coming and there was no disappointment in her grand bolero, 
the way she whipped up and down the scale with great coloratura ease and ended 
on a sustained high "E" note that impressed us all.
ALAN J. SAVADA, CTC
Washington, DC

"Uns is gegeben, daß wir immer meinen, anderswo wäre das Glück, und so 
beneiden wir alle, die anders sind."--Reisebuch aus den Österreichen Alpen by Ernst 
Krenek
translates as:
It is our lot always to imagine that happiness lies elsewhere, and so we envy 
all things that are different.
"The lure of travel set my heart afire"--Erich Korngold from DIE TOTE STADT
"If you ask me what I came into this world to do, I will tell you I came to 
live out loud--Emile Zola
****************LIFE IS A CABERNET!

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