Friday, February 4, 2011

Opera, Not Hats

Where may the hats have gone to, you may say.........for me, Ellen Christine, it's all tied into design theory. Like music theory. Like dance theory. Like art theory.
The Metropolitan Opera gives us grandiosity, and thus, inspiration. And for the production of Verdi's Simon Boccanegra, it was all old school. The sets: involved. The costumes: lush. The singing: grandiloquent. And the conducting, ah, the conducting!!!!!superb. It was opera 101 for some, and an indulgence for others, with the sets leaning more towards opulence than modernisme. The velvet, the brocades, the fur, the armor.......ah, what a delight for the costume freak in all of us. Lame done as armour. Armour done as armour. Lord, I love a guy in a skirt. Help me, but I do. When that guy is Dmitri Hvorostovsky, and it's a full-length coat/dress/robe......heaven. Somehow a Russian draped in fur, singing his heart out, is a natural. That's because Dmitri makes it all seem so easy. Except for the first act, when he appeared in a blonde/brown wig, his stage presence is nothing short of noblesse oblige. Not an actor, but a remarkable baritone, he sang the role in an emotive, languid spellbinding manner. No, his enunciation isn't Alagna-esque, but that voice of his carries, and moves the soul of a non-believer.
The berry -reds in the wardrobe echoed the tones of Simon's predicament, and the lamentable situation unfurling in the cold palace. Warm shades of red to match the redolent voices. Furlanetto is deep, rich brocade, if he is a fabric. Maestro Levine carried the orchestra as if the music flowed from his very hands.
The set felt like a Maxfield Parrish print come to life: soft, deep lighting, ably set the stage for those voices, those costumes, that music.
We fell in love with Furlanetto in Don Carlo, and can only weep at his vocal ability. Every duet sung perfectly. The casting included Barbara Frittoli and Ramon Vargas. Whenever any of the cast sang together, it was magic: voices melded and supporting each other. My only problems with some of the singing was in Frittoli's high reaches. Vargas played a noble part, and he wears the armour well. His stage presence lacks the magic of some Met performers, but he holds his own, and stands true as a tenor.
Act II gained applause at the set, and Frittoli reigned supreme in her trill in court. The second act filled in the holes, and provided distance , and gained momentum in the singing. the Met delivers once again!

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