Sunday, 4 October 2015

Heroes and Divas (Met/Trovatore)

Verdi, Il Trovatore (Armilato, cond. Met Orchestra)
Never mind seasons of mist and mellow fruitfulness; Autumn's arrival is really heralded when some starry Live in HD Host announces it. Last night it began with Il Trovatore.

The gold star goes to Dimitri Hvorostovsky: recovering from a brain tumour he announced earlier in the year. The audience at the Met had just finished cheering (quite inexplicably, more below) to an almost-grinning Anna Netrebko; but they positively erupted at Hvorostovsky's arrival at which he couldn't help but almost corpse (and why not). Not a single hint in his performance suggested that he had suffered from as much as a cold in the last year. His commanding presence as the Count di Luna was spot on.
Anna Netrebko was a bitter disappointment. When she did make the high notes, they were shrill.  Acting which was so deeply wooden when it did happen, one preferred "park and bark" mode. Things improved after she took the death potion (was it perhaps some other elixir? or grether's pastilles?). What  else might we expect from someone wearing their own bespoke costumes rather than those provided. Charmingly upstaged during the interval-interview by her son demanding she sing quicker so he might get home quicker. Her long sections did drag a little. Park and bark has to offer first-rate barking otherwise it is a real waste.
Yonghoon Lee (Manrico) had power and tenderness, but seemed to take a while to get warmed up dramatically. Dolora Zajick was so bitterly wretched, holding so much of the drama together.

Helden Baritone: Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Count di Luna (Photograph Marty Sohl)
The production was set by David McVicar in the Peninsular War, drawing inspiration from Goya: giant faces on the drop cloth were a superb touch. Charles Edwards' sets were a surprisingly solid realisation of this hellish world, whilst sensitive ligthing (Jennifer Tipton) made it dark without being gloomy. The Anvil Chorus was well done- reflective of the well-controlled chorus - the stage was quite busy at times; just as Goya filled his canvas, himself.

Overall: A fine start to the season; more heroes, fewer divas, please.

Full cast and creatives
Conductor: Marco Amiliato
Producer: Sir David McVicar
Sets: Charles Edwards
Costumes: Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting: Jennifer Tipton
Choreography: Leah Hausman
Ferrando: Stefan Kocan
Ines: Maria Zifchak
Leonora: Anna Netrebko
Count di Luna: Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Manrico: Yonghoon Lee
Azucena: Dolora Zajick
A Gypsy: Edwrad Albert
A Messenger: Daivd Lowe
Ruiz: Raul Melo
A PDF of the programme can be read here on the Met's site.

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