Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chi Mi Frena In Tal Momento?

Who dares to restrain me in this moment [of epic proportions]?

October 25th, 2008
Lucia di Lammermoor
Lucia- Diana Damrau
Edgardo- Piotr Beczala
Enrico- Vladimir Stoyanov
Raimondo- Ildar Abdrazakov
Alisa- Michaela Martens
Arturo- Sean Panikkar
Conductor- Marco Armiliato

As promised, here is a review of the birthday celebration Lucia. I took three friends to sit in the Orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera House to see Diana Damrau, one of the great sopranos singing today, in Lucia di Lammermoor, one of the greatest bel canto operas ever written. I want to reiterate this because, not only did I witness an EPIC (to quote my friends) performance, but three of my friends did as well. I hesitate to say "converts", but they certainly enjoyed themselves immensely and have an added respect for this extraordinary art.

Really quick, here is the origin of "EPIC."
I usually use the thunderous applause after arias and during curtain calls to give my commentary. So after every aria/duet in the opera I had said "Beastly. That was amazing. Oh my gosh, beastly!" I figured I had used the adjective "beastly" (as a compliment, remember!) enough, so it was time for something new. After the mad scene I was dumbstruck. I couldn't even say anything! Suddenly my friend yells "EPIC! That was epic!" It was too perfect. The rest of the evening all we could saw was. "Wait, can you believe how EPIC that was?" "It was so EPIC, I can't even stand it." We even had to make up a new category of epic: Lucia-style Epic. =)

In case you want to hear about the singers at all...

Part of the epic-ness was the perfection of the cast. Looking at the list some of us may have been caught saying "Who?" Well, that question (and some of our prayers) were quickly answered.
Sean Panikkar as Arturo (while not exactly Stephen Costello *wink*) and Ronald Naldi as Normanno were strong supporters with beautiful voices and definite presence. An opera is only as good as it's supporting singers and these guys were great.
Michaela Martens as Alisa was, as last year, a force to be reckoned with. Hopefully, after the sextet you don't want to be heard, because this mezzo's voice is so big that during her high notes she drowns out everything else. It's a good thing. I love it. It's like proclaiming "Hello! I'm here! And I have a wonderful mezzo voice!!"
Ildbar Abdrazakov was a great Raimondo. He staggered onto the stage just before the mad scene in such a way that it made everyone in the audience nervous. Let's face it, we all know the mad scene is coming, but the horrified look he had made it so....real! His singing in the second act was great as well. His guidance to Lucia was heartfelt and very affecting.
No one likes Enrico. No one ever is supposed to like Enrico. He's a mean brother who has no consideration for his sister's feelings. Right? I guess not. Vladimir Stoyanov showed (me, at least) another dimension of Enrico. Sure, he is dishonest and mean to Lucia, but his intentions are clearer. With his deep voice and impressive acting Mr. Stoyanov shows a man who, in desperation, would sacrifice his sister's happiness for the "good" of his family's name. He is struggling, as head of the family, to maintain the favor the Ashton family had previously enjoyed. This all becomes clear through Stoyanov's personal interpretation of Enrico Ashton.

The real find at this performance was Piotr Beczala as Edgardo. He comes on stage and all of my friends lunged for the only pair of opera glasses we brought. Enough said? Well on the visual part of the discussion anyway... I'm always excited but nervous to see tenors I haven't heard [of] before. While I want them to succeed I'm always afraid they will disappoint. My worries were for nothing! Piotr Beczala possesses a gorgeous tenor voice with vibrant high notes and luxurious tone. He also has amazing acting abilities. Last year I commented on Marcello Giordani knocking over chairs for no apparent reason after he denounces Lucia. Beczala did that too, but here it looked normal. (Don't get me wrong, I adore Marcello Giordani, but his clear Italian style and knocking over chairs don't mesh well together.) Everything he did was perfectly relevant to the music and to the story. You really believed him and felt for him. This is a tenor to watch for! He is performing in two other roles at the Met this season (Duke in Rigoletto and Lenski in Eugene Onegin) so his name will be on every opera fans lips. Remember his name, because you won't forget his voice. <3
Diana Damrau. Lucia-style Epic. Lucia Ashton is not a half-insane girl who is clingy and weak and unstable. She's about as insane as any teenage aristocrat with a forbidden lover. She has a strong personality (demonstrated when she throws Edgardo's coat on the ground in Act I and rushes right back into his arms to elongate their duet) and a strong will (demonstrated in her duet with her brother, until she reads the forged letter). It's only, like I said, when Enrico shows her the forged letter that she breaks down. It's all downhill from the there. The wedding, the decrying, the mad sc-...we aren't there yet.
Diana Damrau. What a voice on this woman! You wouldn't know this was her role debut. You would think she'd been singing this for years! I've never seen a Lucia like this. All Lucia's are unique, but this was uniquely unique. It was Lucia, Diana Damrau style. That means it has sass, flair, it's piquant, vibrant. It's everything it should be, but with an edge. That edge is the mad scene. Every soprano is dying to do it, but only few get it just right. Need I say more? It's implied that she got it "just right." I've never seen a Lucia hobble in circles so many times, or stretch across the prompter's box and sing those extremely difficult passages. She had blood on her face, her arms, her dress. It was everywhere! Don't even get me started on this woman's high notes. THE HIGH NOTES! The High Notes. We know she has them from her Queen of the Night, but these are out of this world! All in all, it was ridiculous. It's ludicrous that those sounds can come out of a human being.
Never seen a Lucia quite like it. Beczala and Damrau have a warm and believable chemistry that had me thinking "Oh, I could see that." There was just something very different about how they reacted to each other. With some/most couples it's all about the love they share right now. Lucia and Edgardo are in love right now and yes our families fight, but now we are in love. With these two you can sense their past. You know that they know that they aren't supposed to be together, but it doesn't matter to them. You see the complexities of their relationship without them having to spoon feed it to you.

Dear Marco Armiliato, I salute you. Love, CaroNome of Score Desk.
EPIC. (The chorus, too. Finally catching up to the orchestra!)

To Summarize:
My birthday performance was LUCIA-STYLE EPIC.

Happy Listening!!! =) =)
PS. I apologize for the lateness.
PPS. I always try to make my reviews shorter, but it never works. You can handle that, right?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You had a great time. Lucky you to be in the right place at the right time.

Piotr Beczala (can I say hot Pole) has been singing for a while. But an excellent Edgardo always make a star of a tenor. Last time anyone got this kind of reaction probably was Mr. Vargas' Met debut, stepping in for Mr. P.

Of couse, there was the one night performance last season by Mr. Costello.