We are here to encourage the development of gifted young singers and to stimulate the growth of New York City's invaluable chamber opera companies. But we will not neglect the Metropolitan Opera either. Get ready for bouquets and brickbats.

Monday, September 3, 2012


Il Trovatore
Silly plot, incomparable music.  That is the way we customarily describe Il Trovatore.  Verdi's luscious arias and duets tumble head over heels, each one a knockout.  And so, we overlook the ridiculous plot about the gypsy Azucena throwing her own baby into the fire.  We even overlook the dark set of Charles Edwards and the unflattering costumes for Leonora by Brigitte Reiffenstuel.  We revel in the large but flexible voice of soprano Sandra Radvanovsky as Leonora, the woman caught between two men-- Manrico the gypsy she loves, passionately sung by tenor Marcelo Alvarez, and the wicked Count Di Luna, stylishly sung by baritone Dmitri Hvorostovky.  The revue of this 2011 live performance is  appended below.  Barbara Willis Sweete directed the HD of this David McVicar production and Marco Armiliato conducted.  Sadly, the lovely Ms. Radvanovsky was lit as unflatteringly as she was costumed.

There are reasons why middle-period Verdi is so popular with the opera-going public.  The stories are larger than life, dare we say “operatic”.  Verdi’s music propels the story sans longueurs and limns the characters in Shakespearean fashion.  His melodies wraps themselves around our hearts and linger in our brains forever after for future savoring.  We have intense arias that tell us what the characters are feeling, impassioned duets, complex ensembles and stirring choruses that comment on the action and fill in the backstory.  What’s not to love?

And we loved us some Verdi the following night when Marco Armiliato conducted a riveting performance of Il Trovatore.  This was a different cast from the one reviewed several months ago and, admittedly, it is harder to hate the nasty Count di Luna when sung by the glamorous Dmitri Hvorostovsky than it was when Lucic sang.  It is a testament to his ability to act with his beautiful baritone that we can accept him as a villain.  And it is a testament to the tender tenor arias of Marcelo Alvarez in the role of Manrico that we can accept Leonora choosing him over the sexy DH.  Sondra Radvanovsky has a big beautiful soprano that fills up the entire house and we just love her wherever and whenever.  Dolora Zajick makes a compelling gypsy Azucena.  That generous bass of Stefan Kocan reappears as Ferrando who is responsible for introducing the backstory in the opening scene.  More credit to him for making this implausible story comprehensible.

The revolving set is grey and spare, serving as castle wall, interior and prison.  Only the gypsy camp has visual interest as a setting for the famous Anvil chorus, stirringly sung by the estimable Met chorus and amply decorated by some bare-chested men swinging the anvils.  Eye candy for us ladies!  David Vicar’s production is only two years old and one expects it to be around for awhile.

(c) meche kroop

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