La Cenerentola – Opernhaus Zürich

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Cenerentola2_logoCenerentola was Cecilia Bartoli, and I am falling in love with her voice more and more. I have heard her live several times now, and I think she gives her best as a Rossini mezzo. Her middle voice is simply wonderful, pure liquid gold, and when she tackles soprano roles, it gets kind of lost. Another feature of her voice that you can appreciate fully in mezzo roles is uniformity. She can sing from below the middle C to very high notes with an extremely uniform timbre, it’s amazing.
During the final aria she gave it all: original variations, chromatic scales, a trill which brought tears in my eyes because it’s not possible to trill so perfectly. Yes, ok, she makes funny faces, she has lots of mannerisms. I don’t care.

Cenerentola_sorellastreThe mise en scene was not very original, but the costumes were very beautiful, and the direction was truly funny. All the singers were very good actors, and made an effort to really make the funny Rossini spirit shine through. Another proof (as if we needed more) that you don’t need to come up with absurd ideas to perform a decent opera.

The orchestra of the Opernhaus was directed by Giancarlo Andretta, who did a very good job, playing also the harpsichord in the recitativi. The overture was wonderful, with one of the best Rossini crescendo I ever heard, not too fast, very well paced… except that after such a wonderful crescendo you expect a real fortissimo, and instead they came short. it was sort of anti-climactic. But overall I was very happy with the orchestra, the director did a great job keeping everybody together during the 3 concertati, which are really hard to sing.

The prince was Lawrence Brownlee, FINALLY I heard him live!! His voice is marvelous! The timbre warm, round, sweet; his technique is impeccable, pure bel canto. His voice also has a pretty decent size, and his high notes are confident and exciting. So, what’s missing? Metal. He almost has no metal in his voice, which in general I don’t mind so much, but, to be honest, without metal the high notes don’t “ring” enough, they don’t sound like a trumpet, they don’t make the bones in your skull resonate, they don’t give you the hibby jibbies, and they don’t make you feel like running up the stage and kiss him passionately (well, so to speak, I’m sure you know what I mean). But, man, what a voice, and what interpretation! He manages very sophisticated details, high notes going soft with pure filati sounds, really confident coloratura… In a certain sense, his voice is similar to Bartoli’s: same velvety sound, so they were very very good together. The first act duet was perfect. As a note: he’s a bit too American, his gestures are very American, sometimes I noticed it and it made me smile.

Don Magnifico was Carlos Chausson, who I had already heard as Don Bartolo in Nozze di Figaro, in London, and I liked him a lot. The good impression was confirmed: finally a basso buffo who doesn’t scream! (they tend to scream, in my experience). He has a solid technique and a very good voice, I can’t wait to hear him as Bartolo in Barbiere!

Dandini was Oliver Widmer, who I didn’t like very much. His voice is not very well set, he doesn’t breathe right, his coloratura is all done with his throat and not on the breath. He needs to work on it, in my humble hopinion. (He is Bartoli’s husband…. no comment…)

Alidoro was a Chinese giant who decided to make his first and last name into one: Shenyang. His voice is round and extremely powerful, I really liked him a lot. He’s only 30 years old, I’ll keep an eye on him.

The two evil sisters, Liliana Nikiteanu and Martina Jankova, completed a very good cast, supporting the concertati with precision, and the right dose of exaggeration in their acting.

One observation: everybody, including the chorus, looked like they were having a blast, their fun was very contagious. Bravissimi! And bravissima Cecilia!

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