Tamerlano at LA Opera

Laopera-tamerlano * Notes * 
Yesterday evening Tamerlano had the third of five performances this season at Los Angeles Opera. William Lacey had the orchestra sounding uncharacteristically crisp, serving the music well. Most of the singing was of a high standard, only Ryan McKinny (Leone) and Jennifer Holloway (Irene) did not stand out, both lacking heft and fullness. Sarah Coburn sounded and looked pretty as Asteria, though her vibrato could be excessive. She sang her Act II aria, "Se non mi vuol amar," nicely. Patricia Bardon cut a fine figure as Andronico, and the warmth of her voice was pleasant. She too sang with rather too much vibrato for this sort of music. Plácido Domingo (Bajazet) sounded surprisingly lovely, even if the music does not particularly suit him. Domingo seemed only slightly fragile, his timing imperfect, however, his timbre is beautiful, so sweet. In the title role, countertenor Bejun Mehta had a fresh effortlessness, his volume strong, without sounding strained or constricted.

The production, directed by Chas Rader-Shieber, was a somewhat silly. The most unintentionally hilarious bit was in Act II when Tamerlano took Bajazet's long brocade coat and wore it over his suit in an apparent fit of tyranny. David Zinn's scenery was clean and his costumes elegant. Best of all was the lighting from Christopher Akerlind, understated at first, and building up to the last act, which featured red reflected off of the black floor rather dramatically.

* Tattling * 
There were some mobile phone rings, most disruptive in Act III, during the recitative between Tamerlano and Bajazet. The couple in H 75 and 76 of Balcony B would not stop talking during Acts I and II, despite my repeated attempts to express my displeasure with their noise levels. The male half of this couple had a bad cold and snorted about 25 times in the first act, and I was sure they would not return after the first intermission. They did come back, only to litter cotton swabs and tissues all over the ground around their seats, and to take photographs of Domingo. Their camera emitted various high-pitched sounds during the music. I asked to be reseated after the second intermission, and the ushers were very accommodating and helpful.