Monday, May 31, 2010

REVIEW: Simon Boccanegra in The Metropolitan Opera HD Live

It was a very interesting piece of “experimental” theatre.

photo: coutesy of The Metropolitan Opera

Last night’s (May 30) screening of Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra at the Bethanie’s Wellcome Theatre was primarily pegged on the fact that Placido Domingo was doing his first important baritone role in The Metropolitan Opera. I saw Placido in the baritone role of Vidal Hernando (Torroba’s Luisa Fernanda) back in 2006 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain; and the performance was very fine (though he was upstaged by the King Juan Carlos I of Spain). However, in this showing at the MET, let us face it, if somebody auditioned for the role with Placido’s voice, I don’t think MET would have put him on stage. BUT we are talking about Placido here; thus indulgence was the game.

When the opera started and a performer stepped onto the stage and sang, I immediately thought, “Boy, they should do a better casting job for these secondary roles!” Then, I realized I was looking at Placido (with very heavy make-up) doing THE role and my heart sank. While Placido may have fared better as the older Simon Boccanegra, the voice was threadbare on the edges and the tenor quality of his voice just didn’t blend very well with the other voices.

Soprano Adrianne Pieczonka, as Maria/Amelia, was splendid with a clear and shimmering voice. Tenor Marcello Giordani, was generally good and generally annoying… can’t put my finger on it… I am not so sure whether it was his careless phrasing or his contrived facial expressions or both. Most importantly though, Simon Boccanegra was just not very interesting. The opera, when compared with other Verdi operas, just doesn’t have the same melodic charm and clarity of dramatic flow... not even Jame Levine with his magic wand was able to change it.

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At June 1, 2010 at 12:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Too bad if you didn't like it. I liked it far better than the silly zarzuela role.

At June 1, 2010 at 12:35 AM , Blogger SATOSHI said...

HAHA! You are right. Vidal Hernando is a silly zarzuela role indeed. Compared with Simon Boccanegra's mountain, Vidal Hernando is a just a hill. Having said that, in terms of performance, I tend to think that it is better to be good in a minor role than be mediocre in a major role :-)


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