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Subject: Roberto Devereux in Yokohama
From: NAKAMURA Akira <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:NAKAMURA Akira <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 24 Sep 2011 12:16:03 +0900
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Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) began their fourth Japan
Tour with the performance of Donizetti's "Roberto Devereux" last night
in Yokohama.

Conductor: Friedrich Haider

Cast:
Elisabetta: Edita Gruberova
Il duca di Nottingham: Devid Cecconi, replacing an ill Paolo Gavanelli
Sara: Sonia Ganassi
Roberto Devereux: Alexey Dolgov, replacing an ill JosÚ Bros
Lord Cecil: Francesco Petrozzi
Sir Gualtiero Raleigh: Steven Humes
Paggio & Famigliare: Nikolay Borchev

Staged by: Christof Loy
Set and costume design: Herbert Murauer
Lighting design: Reinhard Traub
Chorus master: S÷ren Eckhoff

Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Chor der Bayerischen Staatsoper

Venue: Kanagawa Kemmin Hall, Yokohama, Japan

Nowadays, when foreign opera companies come to Japan, many soloists
mysteriously become sick and thus unable to come here.  For "Roberto
Devereux," it was JosÚ Bros and Paolo Gavanelli, two crucial male
roles, who canceled at the last minute.

Edita Gruberova sang Elisabetta in a concert performance in Tokyo
three times in 2008 with the Wiener Staatsoper.  I attended all three,
and she was wonderful.  Three years have passed, and now it is a full
staged production from Munich.

I am very happy to report that Gruberova was in top form last night
and sang Elisabetta wonderfully.  She will be 66 in December, but her
top notes remain absolutely thrilling, and her intonation last night
was excellent, with no flat or shrill high notes.  Her messa di voce
was still breathtakingly beautiful, and her trills were exemplary.
Moreover, her middle voice was also powerful, and she used "chest
voice" sparingly but very effectively, too. I know of no other
sopranos in their sixties who can sing as fresh as she does.  Her
technical mastery is unmarred by age.

In this production, Elisabetta wears a modern business suit, as if she
were a CEO of a company, and many people have a problem because CEOs
normally do not have the right to execute people.  But she can easily
be seen as a Thatcher or Merkel-like head of state, having the power
to engage wars and give clemency to condemned people.  Gruberova
performed in this production quite a few times, and she was quite
believable as the anguished (but self-centered) powerful woman in old
age.

As I am known as a big Gruberova fan in Japan, many "ordinary" opera
fans came to me during the intermission and after the performance and
told me how superbly Gruberova sang.

Sonia Ganassi, who sang Sara, was also very good.  She sang
beautifully, and she was also dramatically very involved.

Alexey Dolgov had come to Japan earlier this year to sing Edgardo with
the MET, replacing Callejah, who was honest about his decision not to
come to Japan.  I did not go to the performance, but most who went
said that he was very good.  As Roberto Devereux, I liked JosÚ Bros a
lot, who sang the role in Tokyo with Gruberova in 2008.  His voice is
more powerful than Dolgov's, but Dolgov is quite good-looking and
slim, and he played the smirking, arrogant, self-confident young "cad"
convincingly.  He sang the role more lyrically than Bros did.

I wish I could be as complimentary to Devid Cecconi, who sang the Duke
of Nottingham.  He sounded okay, but not memorable.

Friedrich Haider conducted "Roberto Devereux" many times, and I think
his conducting of this belcanto masterpiece is now idiomatic.  I am
not sure how many players in the pit were the real Bayerisches
Staatsorchester members, but they played well enough for me.

Having seen so many provocative productions at Bayreuth and Salzburg
this summer, I find Christof Loy's prodctuion rather boring as
Regietheater goes.  Singers wear modern clothes and they read the
Britisch tabloid "Sun."  Elisabetta does not look like a Tudor Queen,
and for some strange reason, James, the King of Scotland, who is the
son of Mary, the Queen of Scots (Maria Stuarda!!!!), appears on the
stage, scheming this and that to gain political control.  At least it
did not distract.

Overall, it was quite an incandescent performance.  The audience went
wild with shouts of bravas and bravis, and the curtain calls were many
and long.

Nakamura Akira
Tokyo/Los Angeles

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