Griselda at Santa Fe Opera
July 30, 2011
* Notes *
Vivaldi's Griselda (Act III pictured left, photograph by Ken Howard) at Santa Fe Opera had a third performance last night. The small orchestra lilted under Maestro Grant Gershon, but were not always with the singers. The cast features many fine voices. Isabel Leonard (Constanza) looked lovely in her white ruffled gown with red trim, and has an attractive, dark voice. Her trills were strong. Amanda Majeski made for a convincing Ottone, if not a rather bird-like and pretty one, both physically and vocally. Yuri Minenko sang Corrado with a lightness that floated over the orchestra.
David Daniels (Roberto) sounded fairly sweet. He had a nice ease in Act I, but may have been more strained in the second half. Paul Groves made the best of the unsympathetic character of Gualterio. His sound is warm and pleasing, however, some of the coloratura of his arias seemed quite difficult. In the title role, Meredith Arwady sang with richness and depth. Her voice has some texture to it and is full without being overly loud. Overall the musical performance was vibrant but not perfectly cohesive. Vivaldi's music is beautiful, and that came through well.
The production, directed by Peter Sellars, is oddly static. There were a lot of giggles, but whether this was from confusion or engagement was not clear. Gronk's scenic design is bright, as are Dunya Ramicova's costumes. James F. Ingalls used the same strong colors in the lighting. On balance the effect is both lurid and a little boring. The production did not elucidate the plot, nor did it help bring the performance into focus.
* Tattling *
The person in RA 40 sounded like she was doing origami during the overture, and seemed baffled that I kept hushing her. Three latecomers surrounded me in the first 30 minutes of the show, and then it turned out they were not even in the correct spots. The tardy standees in RA 42-46 also spoke, but more quietly. There was noticeable audience attrition and more than three-fourths of the standing room was empty for Acts II and III.