Can Belto

On the art of singing and those who practice it…

A Great Start to the Season

I just finished listening to the Met’s Trittico on what was the 1st of their brodcast of the season. before i start talking about my impression I must thank the sponsors of the season: Toll Brothers. Thanks you for taking over when Texaco thought they were too special for the opera. Thank you for your gift to many who can only receive opera through the radio. Than you for your support and your dedication. No matter what happens through the season, there will always be a winner: the audience and that is largely because of you. A standing ovation for Toll brothers and all their staff.

Needless to say, the afternoon belonged to Patricia Racette. She pulled one hell of a tour de force today. Her Georgietta was the best thing of an otherwise lackluster Tabarro. Her Suor Angelica was a towering characterization and her Lauretta was simple and beautifully sung. After the Angelica, I was astonished that she could still sing Lauretta and that she could deliver her in such simple terms. She definitely deserved the ovation she got. Brava!

Further honors go to Stephanie Blythe reprising the roles of Frugolla, Zia Pricipessa and Zita. This artist continues to make one fabulous move to another. She characterized the roles marvelously. Her singing was solid and ultimately proved to be a perfect foil to Racette’s 3 heroines.  I know that it was Marylin Horne’s dream to sing these roles on one night and that dream was left unfulfilled. How lucky are we that we got an artist of the same caliber to do it for us.

The afternoon got off to a rocky start with the announcement that Salvatore Licitra, the afternoon’s Luigi  had a cold and begged indulgence and understanding. I’ll try… You know? I didn’t hear any difference between how he sang in Chicago’s Ernani and today. If he was suffering from a cold, I understand, but how come he sounded exactly the same? I’m sorry, but given the fact that he sounded the same I will take the “cold” announcement with a grain of salt and still say that cold or not, he delivered yet another performance that showed no elegance and no restraint. His career continues to baffle me as I do not hear anything artistic coming out of his throat.

Zeljko Lucic’s Michele had his moments, but for some reason it reminded me of Juan Pons’ Michele from the last time Il Trittico was performed. No, that is not meant to be a compliment. Michele is an ungrateful role, short, unsympathetic and it has no truly showy moments. I think Zeljko Lucic did his best with what he was given. Stephanie Blythe didn’t sound pretty as Frugola. Needless to say the chat room where I was exploded with unkind comments. During the interview in the first intermission, she talked about how the role sits in an area of the voice that doesn’t make it sound pretty and how she believes that it is exactly how Puccini intended it. One way or another, I still think that she is luxury casting as Frugola and I thought that overall, she was fantastic in the one mezzo role that is sympathetic from start to finish.

The Trittico reach the high point with the Suor Angelica performance. To say that it was divine is to put it mildly. Racette was obviously in her element and Blythe was singing a role that allows for her beautiful voice to be heard to best advantage. Their confrontation reached levels of heat not seen yet at the Met. This was singing and characterization of the first order. For the most part, Racette sang the role beautifully. She encompassed everything you come to expect in an Angelica. My only quibble is the fact that she allowed herself to get caught up during the Senza mamma. This make for thrilling outward expression (albeit a less successful high A at the end) but it somewhat altered the arch of the opera. With such an outward Senza Mamma, there was nowhere to go in the final scene. The opera had reached its climax with the aria and building on top of that was hard, plus the hysteria seemed misplaced. Let’s hope that Racette hets to sing this role more times, as i believe her characterization of the role will grow and she’ll prove to be an Angelica to make you cry and cry…

The afternoon ended with a magnificent Gianni Schicchi. This time Racette took a back seat to Alessandro Corbelli’s Schicchi. Given how wonderful a Schicchi he is, both vocally and in acting, how could you not take a back seat and enjoy him?  Corbelli has matured  to a great singing actor with an uncanny sense of commedy. His Schicchi was beautifully vocalized and if the acting was anything like the telecast, he was the perfect foil for the Donato family. As Zita, once again Blythe put to use her wonderful voice and also her marvelous comic timing and created the perfect leader for the pack of wolves. I have do doubt that Blythe’s Zita and Corbelli’s Schicchi will make a wonderful couple when they get married (if you didn’t know, there is a sequel to Gianni Schicchi that hints that the hatred between Zita and Schicchi is due to their attraction to one another. It also hints that they will end up hooking up)

Racette was once again perfect in the role of Lauretta.  After having sung her heart out as Angelica, she came and sang Lauretta with simple delivery and a hint of childish charm that I am sure would have melted the heart of any Schicchi. She also sang the treacherous unwritten high C at the end with no showing of getting tired. As Rinuccio, Armenian tenor Saimir Pirgu in the role of his house and broadcast debut (he debuted on 11/20 in this production) showed much promise. His Rinuccio was a vast improvement over last year’s Massimo Giordano. Let’s hope for more wonderful things from Mr. Pirgu.

As always, it is easy to take for granted the orchestra and chorus at the Met. The same could be said for the magnificent set of supporting artists the Met secured for this production, so fantastic is their playing and singing that you just seem to forget them. The ensemble singing in all operas was top notch. Every small role was filled with wonderful artists too many to name but none the less for it. The orchestra under the baton of Stefano Ranzani played wonderfully and solidly. Bravo to all of you. This afternoon was a huge success in great part because you were there to support your soloists. Bravi tutti.

Next week we get the HD transmission of Hoffman. If you have a theater close to you, go see it. If it is not in your budget, you’ll have the opportunity to hear it free of charge thanks to the Toll Brother’s Company and the Toll Brothers International Radio Network.

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December 12, 2009 - Posted by | Opera Review |

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