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Subject: Onegin at the Met 4/15/17
From: Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Kirsten Lee <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Mon, 17 Apr 2017 03:03:48 -0700
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In between two Sondheim performances of Sweeney Todd and Sunday in the park
with George, I attended Onegin at the Met Saturday 4/15 evening to recharge
myself with that high only operas give us.

The conductor Robin Ticciani was indisposed so Joel Revzen (who ?)
substituted. I had never heard of him and was wondering who he was since no
bio was provided in the insert other than his name. Although one wouldn't
mistake his style for the swooping passion of Gergiev or Noseda, except one
moment in Act I where the orchestra was going way faster than the chorus
(the end of peasants celebrating the harvest) overall he was  finely in
tune with the principal singers and got a respectful and enthusiastic
applauds from the orchestra.


Some time around 2002 or 2003, Peter Mattei sang Onegin at Aix en Provence
and a fellow lister sent me a recording of that performance to watch soon
after I first joined this group and since then I had hope for a chance to
hear Mattei's Onegin live. Although the circumstances that made this chance
is unfortunate but I am glad that Mattei's Onegin will get a chance for HD.

I think what becomes pretty obvious earlier on is how smoothe and
effortless Mattei's sound is. One almost gets the impression as if he's
singing Schubert. Tall and dashing, he is a formidable actor, especially in
his portrayal of characters in suffering rather than comedies as you may
recall from his Amfortas and Shishkov in From the house of the Dead.

Perhaps his swaggering is more subdued than that of Mariusz and I think
Mariusz is a slightly more natural dancer, but Mattei matched Kwiecien in
all the acting chops.

I saw this production when it premiered with Kwiecien/Netrebko and I think
Netrebko really grew into the role comfortably. Her acting was subtle and
believable without exaggerating even when she had her back to the audience
or just in the background such a in during Prince Gremin's aria.

Netrebko's middle range voice and her breath control were more secure and
even than the last time I recall and she delivered a truly spectacular
letter scene at the end of which she collapsed on the floor savoring the
thunderous applauds.


Alexey Dolgov 's Lensky sang capably and acted well but I found his voice
thin and his singing monotonous - often I forgot about his existence. I
have to admit I am certainly spoiled by Beczala's ardent and impetuous
Lensky.

Kocan sang Prince Gremin well milking the long held low note at the end but
a bit of brass like quality in his timbre isn't something I really cared
for. He also looked too young for this role (when is Domingo going to avail
himself to sing Gremin??:) joining the club of not so old people acting old
(Marschallin, King Phillip II...)


I may have mentioned this the first time this production premiered a couple
of years ago but I get nostalgic in the first scene with Elena Zaremba
(madame Larin) and Larissa Diadkova both of whose voices I've admired for a
long time singing with two Larin girls. Netrebko made her U.S.debut in San
Francisco in Ruslan and Lyudmila in 22 years ago(!) when Zaremba sang the
role prince Ratmir, one of her suiters. Then in '98 Netrebko sang Luisa in
Prokofiev's Betrothal in a Monastery where Larissa Diadkova sang her
duenna. So it's sweet to witness this reunion of young girl and her nanny
19 years afterwards in the same relationship.

I find this production and staging overall dull and unattractive but if I
am forced to say something nice about this production the duel scene seen
from upstairs is evocative with frozen ground and dead trees. Having
peasants dance what looks like a gang rape of a village girl (similar to
that Guillaume Tell last year) when they should be giving thanks to the
harvest, Onegin showing up at his dawn duel eating a sandwich, then
offering Lensky his half-eaten sandwich or Monsieur Triquet offering a bon
bon to Tatiana during his serenade makes you think "first do no harm"
should be applied to stage direction as well.


For the singing of the two leads though, it is a very satisfying
performance and I am looking forward to the HD.


Kirsten

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