Alternate Cast of I Puritani at Seattle Opera
May 13, 2008
* Notes *
The alternate cast of Seattle Opera's I Puritani was almost infuriating. It was as if the intensity had been sapped out of the whole cast, and then, for some sadistic reason, poured into the soprano. It is a pity that newcomer Eglise Gutierrez was not in the A cast as Elvira, if she had been, the Brownlee/Kwiecien/Relyea performances would have been unbelievable. Her voice is more on the metallic side than Amsellem's, colder, and at first, not as penetrating. The lovely pianissimo of her high notes in Act I gave her somewhere to build from as far as the drama was concerned. Gutierrez also was fiercer in the mad scenes, though tiny, she pushed the rather tall Morgan Smith (Riccardo) with conviction, and ferociously tore at her veil.
The horns were more in tune during the overture this time, and the horn solo of Act II was better. The orchestra drowned out Denis Sedov during his last lines, but other than that sounded good. Sedov was better than I remembered, he was only slightly gravelly and was less awkward than John Relyea. His voice is not as velvety as Relyea's, and certainly quieter. Morgan Smith acted well as Riccardo, he was committed to the movement in the Act I sword fight, though one did feel slightly nervous for little Bradley Williams (Arturo). Smith's legato is not as gorgeous as Kwiecien's, but his voice is pretty. Williams was less vital than Brownlee, he was reedy and a little quiet, though always audible. He sang "Son salvo...La mia canzon d'amore...Ad altro lato" well in Act III.
* Tattling *
I had forgotten that concessions at the Seattle Opera card those who look under a certain age. I had purposefully dressed childishly and worn pigtails, because I find it quite frightening when strangers wish me a "Happy Mother's Day." Thus, I was carded for my glass of merlot, and the young lady at the counter inadvertently gasped when she saw my birth-date. It was very flattering.
The matinée was considerably less full than the evening before, perhaps because of the casting difference. There were many more watch alarms marking the hour, during Arturo's first aria in Act III, I heard no less than four watches, and as Elvira sang "A una fonte afflitto e solo," two more sounded. I was in the same spot behind Section 2, at CC 2, but all alone. I would have stayed there, but for one thing, the young woman in BB Seat 5 was giving a running commentary during the arias.
An elderly woman with a walker was unable to make it down to her seat in the orchestra level. She arrived after 2pm, ostensibly the start time of the opera, and her caretaker and an usher were not able to get her to her seat. Instead, she sat on her walker (it was the sort that folds into a chair) behind Section 1, and spoke loudly in a Slavic language to her companion during the overture. After this she unwrapped candies and sucked on them in a most disgusting and loud manner. I did feel bad for the people in front of her, as no one was supposed to be in that area. I also felt bad for her, the usher simply seemed to abandon her until Act I Scene 1 was over. However, she did not want to move, so I took a seat in Row AA to get away from the noise. I could still hear her from several meters away, but it was less vile from a distance. She disappeared after Act II, perhaps finding her seat or maybe leaving altogether.