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Showing posts from May, 2010

Donizetti - Maria Stuarda

Teatro Massimo, Palermo, Thursday May 27 2010.

Conductor: Fabrizio Maria Carminati. Production, sets, costumes and lighting: Denis Krief. Elisabetta: Kate Aldrich. Maria Stuarda : Dimitra Theodossiou. Anna Kennedy: Patrizia Gentile. Roberto di Leicester: Shalva Mukeria. Giorgio Talbot: Mirco Palazzi. Lord Guglielmo Cecil Silvio Zanon. Orchestra and chorus of the Teatro Massimo.

If there is one compensation (other than a pittance) for the indignity of having to go to work every day, it must be having colleagues in Italy. It was thanks to mine that I found myself at the Teatro Massimo the other evening for an excellent performance of Maria Stuarda (and later at a table in a cobbled square for an excellent Sicilian dinner as well) with one exception: the costumes. I’ll explain later.

Naturally, I’d wondered beforehand how good it could be. As people who know me know, I’m not a great lover, musically speaking, of either Donizetti or, especially, Bellini (whose organ-grinder scores seem to m…

Massenet - Don Quichotte

La Monnaie, Brussels, Sunday May 16 2010

Conductor: Nicholas Jenkins. Production: Laurent Pelly. Sets: Barbara de Limburg. Costumes: Laurent Pelly. Lighting: Joël Adam. La belle Dulcinée: Silvia Tro Santafé. Don Quichotte: José van Dam. Sancho Panza: Werner Van Mechelen. Orchestra and Chorus of La Monnaie.

For his farewell, after 50 years, to his country’s royal opera house, José Van Dam – described in more than one review as a “living national treasure” – chose Don Quichotte. It was either that or Falstaff, I suppose. His lower range is now (indeed has been for some time) fleshless and breathless and his upper range has a husky, “old man’s" sound; only a few notes in the middle ring out from time to time. So this was a Don Quichotte in which often, in duets (I think of the windmill scene), the Don was outshone, vocally, by his younger partners; a Don Quichotte often without its hero. But this is no time, of course, as he bows out, applauded by his fellow countrymen for a lifetime…