Friday, 22 April 2016

The love problems of the Elizabethan 1% (Roberto Devereux/Met)

 Donizetti, Roberto Devereux (Maurizio Benini cond. Orchestra of the Met Opera).
The penultimate Met relay of the season was surely one of its finest. A superb Roberto Devereux, full of as much passion as there was bel canto. Four very strong singers sat at the heart of this production. Firstly, the Queen, Elisabetta, whom Sondra Radvanovsky made so human and so real in a sensitive portrait. This is an incredibly demanding role, but on the cinema relay the only niggle was that she might have been a little more secure in the top notes. This was an awe-inspiring performance, of the Virgin Queen (?) in robes of state and moments of heartbreak. This is essentially a quartet, and the Queen's love rival was Elīna Garanča as Sara was confident at every turn.
A scene from Roberto Devereux
Yet for all the well-earned bravas for the female voices, it was the two male voices which I found most impressive, especially Matthew Polenzani as the title lead, who was simply stunning. Nottingham was sung by Mariusz Kwiecien who is increasingly getting international attention.
David McVicar's production is simply gorgeous. So much so, it borders on a kind of glitzy pornography. Fabrics sumptuous and rich beyond belief. And in high definition, the astonishing attention to detail is shown off. All without even a hint of the real Elizabethan world. The set design was based on the Sam Wannamaker Playhouse. All dark and gold. Only Paule Constable could really be relied upon to bot make this gloomy; so I wasn't in the least surprised to see it was at her hand the stage was lit.

Overall: serious bling and bel canto

Conductor: Maurizio Benini
Elisabetta: Sondra Radvanovsky
Sara: Elīna Garanča
Roberto Devereux: Matthew Polenzani
Duke of Nottingham: Mariusz Kwiecien

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