14 May 2017

Concert Introduces Fine Dramatic Tenor

On May 4, 2017, Los Angeles Opera presented a concert starring Russian soprano Anna Netrebko and her husband, Azerbaijani tenor Yusif Eyvazev. Led by Italian conductor Jader Bignamini, members of the orchestra showed their abilities, too, with a variety of instrumental selections played between the singers’ arias and duets.

The program opened with a dramatic rendition of the overture to Verdi’s La forza del destino. New to LA Opera, Bignamini’s interpretation included rough, loud chords at the opening followed by smooth legato playing in the overture’s more melodic sections. He drew a great variety of musical color from the ensemble and their sound often reminded me of multicolored Neapolitan ice cream. Thus, he notified California opera lovers that his interpretations are distinctive and architecturally strong.

Ms. Netrebko and Mr. Eyvazev opened with the ecstatic duet that ends Act I of Verdi’s Otello, “Già nella notte densa.” (“Now in the dark night”) The tenor had actually appeared at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion once before, singing the last performance of Pagliacci in the 2015-2016 season. Although not yet well known in the United States, Mr. Eyvazov, a pupil of Franco Corelli, is amassing fans wherever he sings. He has excellent stage presence and a full array of the skills most desired in a dramatic tenor. Ms. Netrebko was no stranger to the Pavilion audience, since she had already sung leading roles in Lucia di Lammermoor, Romeo and Juliette, and Manon at LA Opera. With the music from Otello, Ms. Netrebko and Mr. Eyvazov gave a delightful foretaste of what might some day be a good vehicle for both of them.

Maestro Bignami continued with the overture to Verdi’s early opera, Attila, and Ms. Netrebko began her interpretation of Lady Macbeth. Walking across the stage clad in blood red silk, she showed the predatory nature of her character’s personality as she read Macbeth’s letter. She sang a rousing rendition of the Act I aria, “Vieni t’affretta!” (“ Come, hurry!”) with it’s dramatic coloratura cabaletta “Or tutti sorgete.” (“All of you spirits rise up”) It is unusual for one singer to be able to contend with both the dramatic and florid aspects of the role of Lady Macbeth, but Netrebko handled each with ease.

Mr. Eyvazov countered with another blockbuster: “Ah si ben mio” (“Yes, my love”) and its exciting cabaletta “Di quella pira” (“From this pyre”) from Il Trovatore, which he topped off with a perfectly placed high C. The artists completed the first half of the concert with two selections from Verdi’s 1859 work, Un ballo in maschera: the prelude to Act II and the duet, “Teco io sto” (“I stand with you”). Verdi gave the harp a prominent part in this opera and JoAnn Turovsky played the music from Ballo with glistening silver tones. Ms. Netrebko and Mr. Eyvazov sang Amelia and Riccardo’s love duet with the red hot passion of irresistible attraction.

After the intermission, Mr. Eyvazov offered a complete change of pace with a memorable rendition of “Tu che m’hai preso il cuor” better known as Franz Lehar’s “Dein ist mein ganzes Hertz” (“Yours is my heart alone”) from Das Land des Lächelns. It took a bit of getting used to in Italian, but that melody still went straight to listeners’ hearts. Mo. Bignamini continued with the equally melodic Intermezzo from Macagni’s Cavalleria Ruticana.

Some of the less often performed operas by nineteenth and early twentieth century composers contain great arias. These artists presented memorable performances of arias from Cilea’s Adriana Lecouvreur, Catalani’s La Wally, and Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. I think many people will want to hear these exquisite pieces again. The finale, the verismo duet of the soon to be guillotined lovers from Giordano’s Andrea Chenier brought thunderous applause from the far reaches of the house.

These singers not only gave of themselves during the planned concert, they continued to be generous with encores. First, Ms. Netrebko sang a sweet and innocent version of Puccini’s “O mio babbino caro” (“Dearest daddy”) from Gianni Schicchi, then Mr. Eyvazov sang a full-blooded rendition of “Nessun’dorma” (“None shall sleep”) from the same composer’s Turandot. Together they sang the drinking song, “Libiamo” from Verdi’s La traviata before ending the evening with "Cantami" (“Let’s sing”) by distinguished contemporary Russian composer Igor Krutoy.

Maria Nockin

Musical Selections

Part One (Selections by Giuseppe Verdi)

Overture to La Forza del Destino

“Già nella notte densa” from Otello
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov

Overture to Attila

“Vieni t’affretta!… Or tutti sorgete” from Macbeth
Anna Netrebko

“Ah, sì ben mio… Di quella pira” from Il Trovatore
Yusif Eyvazov

Act II prelude from Un Ballo in Maschera

“Teco io sto” from Un Ballo in Maschera
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov

Part Two

“Tu che m’hai preso il cuor” from Das Land des Lächelns (Franz Lehar)
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov

Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana (Pietro Mascagni)

“Poveri fiori” from Adriana Lecouvreur (Francesco Cilea)
Anna Netrebko

“L’anima ho stanca” from Adriana Lecouvreur (Francesco Cilea)
Yusif Eyvazov

“Ebben! Ne andrò lontana” from La Wally (Alfredo Catalani)
Anna Netrebko

“Un dì all’azzurro spazio” from Andrea Chénier (Umberto Giordano)
Yusif Eyvazov

Intermezzo from Manon Lescaut (Giacomo Puccini)

“Vicino a te” from Andrea Chénier (Umberto Giordano)
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov


"O mio babbino caro" from Gianni Schicchi (Giacomo Puccini)
Anna Netrebko

"Nessun dorma" from Turandot (Giacomo Puccini)
Yusif Eyvazov

"Libiamo ne' lieti calici" from La Traviata (Giuseppe Verdi)
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov

"Cantami" (Igor Krutoy)
Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov