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From: uconn_4 <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:uconn_4 <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 18 Nov 2006 04:59:00 -0000

text/plain (58 lines)

Just got back last night from seeing this opera.  I have rather
mixed feelings about it.  On the one hand, I prefered the old
Barbiere production.  However, I still thought that this one was
good and tasteful, and I also think that it is important to have new
productions, to try new things.  I may have liked the old Barbiere,
but it's nice to see things in a new light, even if they don't
completely meet my expectations.  Interpretation is key to art.

For me, the best two in the cast were Florez and Mattei.  In fact, I
think Mattei even upstaged Florez if I had to choose between the two
of them.  Florez is light on his feet and mildly athletic enough to
throw and catch (sometimes without looking in the right direction)
and run about stage.  He portrays a fun, energetic Almaviva, and his
sense of melancholy is lovely.  I thought his finest singing came
when he was rehearsing a note to Rosina in Act I.  I don't know the
actual name of the aria, I do not confess to be a Barbiere expert.

Mattei was wonderful.  I had seen him once before, but he really
delved into the role.  He brought a sense of urgency, sufficient
vocal agility, and stage presence to the role.  His singing was
first rate, but his command of the audience was his greatest
strength. Bravo, on an excellent performance.

Damrau... eh.  I really like her.  After having seen her Zerbinetta
and Blondchen, and as a ticket holder for her Aithra this spring, I
confess that she is a new favorite singer of mine.  This is really
not the right role for her.  Rosina is feisty, and Damrau is indeed
feisty.  But it seems to me, and I hate to say it, that is where the
parallels end.  She does this thing where she tries to make sense of
coloratura line through acting - I believe she wants this to be her
trademark.  A great example is how she turned Zerbinetta's trills
into giggles last year.  If you watch her "O Zittre Nicht" from
Covent Garden, you will see the same thing - where she almost has
these schizophrenic coloratura conversations with herself during the
allegro section of the aria.  In some places it really works.
Probably worked better as Queen than as Zerbinetta.  Whatever.  She
does the same thing with Rosina.  Whatever good or bad you can say
about this performance, she is a true *performer* in every sense of
the word.  She had the audience in the palm of her hand.  No one can
take that away from her.  On the other hand, the singing suffered at
the hands of the performance.  As an avid listener of Sumi Jo's
soprano Rosina on her Virtuoso Arias recital disc, I can say that
Damrau took about 90% to 95% of those ornaments, but Jo does them
much much better.

There are moments where Damrau's tone is so lovely and fresh, and it
comes through unmistakably.  I wish she would give us more of those
moments.  She has some upcoming roles in New York that I think will
suit her quite well: Aithra, Konstanze, and Pamina.  Each of these
will give her less opportunity to "ham it up" and will require a bit
more melancholy and freshness of tone.  I think that her career will
really benefit from this right now.


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