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Subject: Adriana Lecouvreur - Covent Garden
From: Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Stephen Charitan <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sat, 4 Mar 2017 19:35:41 -0500

text/plain (62 lines)


As a general rule, my grounding is in the Bel Canto, with a middle-aged
predilection for Wagner and Strauss.  I have always suffered from a lack of
empathy with Puccini and Verismo operas in general subject to a few
exceptions – Fanciulla is one and somewhat guiltily, Adriana Lecouvreur is
another.  I have seen several famous Adrianae – Caballe, Scotto, and
Sutherland, with several minor contenders like Teresa Zylis-Gara in
between. Needless to say, the sublime Olivero and comparatively more
earthbound Tebaldi were part of my recorded history.

Last week I added Angela Gheorghiu at Covent Garden to my “live” list.  While
she had her moments, compared to the first three (in order of excellence)
she was a sporadically convincing and – in the moment - enjoyable “also
ran.”  Like Scotto, she is a small woman – unlike Scotto she cannot
overcome this with a conceptual grandeur of the role and a knowledge of how
to deliver it musically.  She was rather like a coquettish, 50ish Norma
Desmond trying to play a much younger woman.  There were several times I
wanted to avert my eyes especially during the banter with her theatrical
colleagues in Act 4 to avoid seeing a woman in her 50’s playing Gidget /
Buffy, or whatever names are given to "cool girls" nowadays .  That being
said, she husbanded her resources carefully and while she could not fill
out the music like Sutherland or Caballe, or spark it to life by sheer
willpower like Scotto, her smallish voice was in fine fettle with little
sign of time’s passing.

Can “Adriana Lecouvreur” survive a compromised heroine?  Given the cast
Covent Garden assembled, I would answer an emphatic “Yes!”  We had two
vocal Tsunami’s and one “singing actor” at the top of his game.  As to the
“Tsunami’s” both came as a complete surprise as I had never heard either of
them before.   Brian Jagde’s Maurizio was the total package – a del Monaco
sized voice – but with a nuance of dynamics his predecessor could not claim.
He was a perfect gentleman in the duets – scaling back his formidable
capabilities to accommodate the limitations of his leading lady.   As a
bonus, he cuts a dashing stage presence.  Ksenia Dudnikova’s Principessa
exploded onstage in Act 2’s “Acerba Volutta” just as you imagine the
character should – plush, commanding, seductive and vulnerable – like
Jagde, she had it all and along with her tenor and Mr. Finley she garnered
the most applause of the evening.  What a luxury to have Gerald Finley as
Michonnet – his “from the heart” narration describing Adriana’s on stage
performance prompted sustained applause.

The Mc Vicar production served the literal progress of the narrative well,
if not quite as in touch with the period as the MET’s wonderful, soon to be
replaced, 18th century inspired effort created for Tebaldi so many years ago

ps:  for pictures - see Opera L facebook page

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