He was in pretty decent voice, and the role suits his rather dry
tone. He moves well and swordfights very well, and he even looks good
standing still. He can project meaningful text in French, though I
wish to God he would get rid of that horrible unstylistic back-of-
the-throat Yves Montand "r". The poetry of the phrasing is inversely
proportional to the difficulty of the line: the cries of "Viens,
parait" in the aria were jerky and coarse.
She was in very poor voice: only the very top worked reliably, and
it's an exciting sound up there. The middle is a total scramble,
brutally out of tune. Most of the opera she sings in that "debole"
unsupported sound certain lyric sopranos use in the last act of
BOHEME or TRAVIATA. She is of course stunningly beautiful and she
has star stage presence, but she seemed ill-at-ease and out of sorts,
not doing anything you would really call "acting." Curiously, there
is very little electricity between the two of them: they are rather
clumsy in their clinches, like two strangers.
The star of the night was Bertrand de Billy, coaxing the most
heavenly French timbre and phrasing from the underrehearsed and
overworked Met orchestra. The string tone at the top of Acte V had
this melting vox humana quality that was just heartbreaking.
And the rest: Russell Braun threw off a most nimble "Mab" with his
second-rate voice, and Kristine Jepson chirped Stephano charmingly.
Robert Lloyd was solid, nothing more.
The physical production is beneath contempt: with sets and costumes
this cheesy, you'd better have Bjoerling and Sayao distracting the
public. Very meager applause and one call. I cannot imagine that
they (especially *she*) can carry a new TRAVIATA production next
year. If I were named Volpe, I would be on the phone right now
promising Ainhoa Arteta the moon to stand by for that emergency call
next November 23.
[log in to unmask]
"Was brauche ich einen Baum auf der Buehne, wenn ich eine Astrid
Varnay habe?" -- Wieland Wagner