Diana Damrau

Rigoletto at the Met

  Rigoletto-met-04302011 * Notes * 
Saturday evening's Rigoletto at the Metropolitan Opera was a study in extremes. On one hand, Diana Damrau gave a revelatory performance, her Gilda ranged from giddily sweet to utterly devastating. She inhabited the character with complete conviction. Her "Caro nome" was incredible. On the other hand, our Duke, Giuseppe Filianoti, left much to be desired. He seemed to throw his voice upward, in the vain hope of hitting those high notes. One could not help but feel sorry for him. The strain in "La donna è mobile" was painful, but the quartet that followed was even worse. He was dreadfully flat and cracked two notes.

As Maddalena, Nancy Fabiola Herrera was difficult to hear during the quartet, but did sound appropriately dark and earthy when her voice was more exposed. The Sparafucile was instantly recognizable as the Ferrando in Il Trovatore earlier in the day, Stefan Kocán. Quinn Kelsey (Monterone) was responsible for some of the finest singing in the first scene, the heft and richness of his voice is notable. Our Rigoletto, Željko Lučić (pictured above, © Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera), also had a warm, rounded sound with beautiful resonances. His volume was strong without ever being unpleasant. As far as his acting, his movement did not project the pitifulness of a hunchbacked jester. The last duet was moving, and he did do his part.

The orchestra rushed under Fabio Luisi, there were times when one was sure the musicians were racing the singers. The chaos was occasionally overwhelming. The chorus was particularly off from the orchestra in Act I. Perhaps the configuration of the traditional, monolithic set contributed to this.

* Tattling * 
Standing room in the Family Circle was nearly empty, but the seats were nearly full. Ushers seated late patrons during the overture, and there was much talking. Someone even used his lighter to illuminate his ticket.

A cellular phone rang loudly during "Caro nome" and another electronic sound was briefly heard as Rigoletto sang near the beginning of Act II.

La fille du régiment at SF Opera

Damrau-florez * Notes * 
San Francisco Opera's La fille du régiment opened last Tuesday. The production, directed by Laurent Pelly, is outrageously silly, involving laundry, potatoes, and very large maps. Karine Girard's slapstick choreography was cute and worked well on the all the singers. The acting overall was charming and everyone looked quite comfortable. It was surprising how much French dialogue there was, but for the most part, the momentum of the absurdity kept the performance moving.

The orchestra raced through the score under Andriy Yurkevych, but managed to stay together. The chorus sounded like they were having fun. Kenneth Kellogg acted and sang convincingly with the chorus as the corporal. Meredith Arwady was an imperious Marquise de Berkenfield, her voice is dark and velvety. Diana Damrau was winsome in the title role, sprightly and darling. She did have the slightest bit of strain when singing loudly at the top of her voice, but had a pleasant suppleness otherwise. Juan Diego Flórez sang sweetly, his high C's were brilliant and not shrill in the least.

* Tattling * 
There was more than one conversation going on during the music, but nothing too obnoxious to be ignored. The audience was particularly delighted by the elderly wedding chorus and by the mini tank Flórez enters on near the end.