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Subject: A new, better R&J at the Met
From: janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:janosG <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 3 Jan 2017 09:21:37 -0800

text/plain (60 lines)

Financial Times / Arts / January 3, 201


Roméo et Juliette
Metropolitan Opera, New York

	Gounod’s lush, intimate and ultra-Gallic evocation of Shakespeare’s
ultimate love story may not be as popular as +Faust+, but it has endured 330
performances at the mighty Met as of New Year’s Eve. When seen in 2008, it
was staged rather clumsily by Guy Joosten, and Plácido Domingo, himself a
former Roméo, served as lax conductor. At least the central singers, Piotr
Beczala and Hei-Kyung Hong, were fine. That production originated back in
2005, and now, thank goodness, it is ancient history.

	On Saturday, everything changed. Gianandrea Noseda exerted
propulsive spirit in the pit, and the protagonists, Vittorio Grigolo and
Diana Damrau, were poignant. Although he happens to be Italian and she
German, both savoured and projected the essentially introspective French
style, even in a house that accommodates 4,000.

	Crucially, Bartlett Sher created a dark yet vivid narrative
framework in a cramped unit set designed by Michael Yeargan. Previously
performed in Salzburg and Milan, this staging moves the action, and
inaction, to a stylised Veronese courtyard in the 18th century, The images
toy with a brave if sometimes contradictory fusion of old cliché and new
surrealism. Only one intermission is allowed, and it occurs, rather
surprisingly, in the middle of Act Three.

	Still, when all is sung, sighed, roared, sobbed and mimed, this
challenge must rise or fall with the artists portraying the young lovers.
The star-crossed duo on duty here made the most of their dauntingly busy
opportunities. Grigolo exuded extraordinary passion, vocally and physically,
yet never neglected sensitive introspection in the process. Damrau traced
the heroine’s emotional state exquisitely from girlish giddiness to tragic
sacrifice, and sang with delicately shaded suavity. The two, moreover,
demonstrated increasingly rapturous rapport. Elliot Madore did much with
Mercutio’s Mab narrative, but Mikhail Petrenko remained stiff and oddly
detached as Frère Laurent.

	Cori Ellison provided fluid title-translations that quoted the
original Bard neatly, also eloquently and elegantly.


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