Can Belto

On the art of singing and those who practice it…

Hoffman Opening Night: Success!

Well, I wish I had been in the house, but being in the heartland, I had to content myself with the Metropolitan Opera’s free webcast (Link will take you to La Cieca’s post of the complete 09-10 Sirius schedule, including the free ones)  of their opening night Hoffman. I have to say I am glad I skipped Grey’s Anatomy and Private practice and heard this instead.

Now, I will not consider this a full review since I am missing the visual aspect of the production. Those I will get on the Dec 19th HD moviecast and I will share my views then. In the meantime, here are some of my views of what happen on stage as relayed by the radio:

Calleja continues to impress me. His vibrato reminds me of French singers from before the jet age and it lend an aura of credibility to Hoffman. His voice seems to be ideal for the role and he performed it quite well. Yes, he sounded tired towards the end and there were some less than pretty notes and some pushing; name a tenor who didn’t tire in Hoffman (besides Kraus). Overall I thought Calleja did a fabulous job and merits the place of honor in this performance. Bravo!

Kathleen Kim’s Olympia is definitely a work in progress, and a voice in progress.  I understand that the Met is wanting to give her some exposure and they are to be commended for it. I am not sure Olympia was the best role. She sounded shrill at times and unable to cope with some of the demands of the role: the coloratura was labored, the trill a little sloppy. Overall, while she failed to create a strong impression in the role, I will say that I would love to hear her in roles like Zerlina, Susanna, Rosina and other roles more suited to her voice. I know she wants to be considered a coloratura, so let’s hope she is continuing her training in that department so her Zerbinetta will leave us with a better impression. For being a good team player and putting out a good effort, you get this Atta Girl!

Stop the presses! Ana Netrebko is finally home! After witnessing some disastrous performances in several bel canto roles, Anna Netrebko and the Met have finally found a role in which she can shine and showcase he very considerable talents. Antonia is the perfect role for Netrebko and lets home the Met will get out of their denial and admit once and for all that Netrebko is not a coloratura and they start casting her in lyric soprano roles. Those are plentiful and she should be a lot better in them: Liu, Antonia, Mimi, Michaela, Susanna, The Countess, Lauretta and many more. As Antonia, Netrebko unleashed her now famous plush tones to great effect.  True, her intonation was suspect at times and there is not trill to be found but the overall impact was favorable. One last quip: one of the qualities that separate great artists from mere singers is the ability to sing in ensemble. There was no need for Ms. Netrebko to ride the last ensemble the way she did. A little more discipline in that area would be welcomed.

Kate Lindsey and Ekaterina Gubanova failed to impress me. Maybe there is a visual aspect that I am missing to fully get their appeal. What came over the web was (in both cases) a faceless voice and a lukewarm performance. These 2 roles give the singers  the possibility of walking away with the performances in the absence of a strong Hoffman and so-so Olympias and Antonias.  I got the sense that they didn’t even try. Ms. Lindsey’s muse was definitely not a muse, there were moments of shrillness and suspect intonation; same for Ms. Gubanova. She is portraying the role of one of the most famous courtesans ever and she did not sound plush, sexy or convincing. The Barcarole was an utter disappointent from both singers. Let’s chalk it up to opening night nerves and see what comes out on the 19th…

Alan Held, Alan Oke and Michael Todd Simpson all shined in their multiple personality disorders. Mr. Held held his own (no pun intended) against the monsters he faced on stage; singing with gusto and individuality. Bravo. Mr Oke and Mr. Simpson both brought a lot of character to their interpretations. Fantastic job you guys. I am looking forward to experience the visual part of your interpretations on the 19th. The vocal part was top notch.

Lastly, Maestro Levine steered the boat with distinction and security. It is good to have him in the podium and knowing he is recovering. Please don’t overdo it. The orchestra sounded fabulous and the chorus, oh my goodness, the chorus was spectacular. Overall, the Met in-house forces were more than support, they were artists in their own right and a huge portion of the success of the night is due to them. Bravi. By the applause heard for the production team, seems we have a winner here.

So there you have it. If you are close to NYC while Hoffman is playing, seems that you need to get your hands on a ticket. If you are not, you will have a chance to experience it on Movie theaters across the world on Dec 19th (check here for USA theaters and here for international venues) and also on the Toll Brothers international radio broadcasts.


December 4, 2009 - Posted by | Opera Review |

1 Comment »

  1. […] on movie theaters across the world. While the show is basically the same that I reviewed just a couple of weeks ago, this time there are 2 elements that are different: the artists have had a chance to rest and we […]

    Pingback by Can Belto | December 20, 2009 | Reply

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