Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Santa Fe: Secondary Mozart in First Rate Staging

Impresario Boris Goldovsky famously referred to La finta giardiniera as The Phony Farmerette.

Regimented Daughter in Santa Fe

At Santa Fe Opera, Donizetti’s effervescent The Daughter of the Regiment can’t quite decide what it wants to be when it grows up.

Santa Fe’s Celebratory Jester

Santa Fe Opera noted a landmark two-thousandth performance in their distinguished history with a stylish new production of Rigoletto.

Sibelius Kullervo, BBC Proms, London

Why did Jean Sibelius suppress Kullervo (Op7, 1892)? There are many theories why he didn't allow it to be heard after its initial performance, though he referred to it fondly in private.

Aïda at Aspen

Most opera professionals, including the individuals who do the casting for major houses, despair of finding performers who can match historical standards of singing in operas such as Aïda. Yet a concert performance in Aspen gives a glimmer of hope. It was led by four younger singers who may be part of the future of Verdi singing in America and the world.

Prom 53: Shostakovich — Orango

One might have been forgiven for thinking that both biology and chronology had gone askew at the Royal Albert Hall yesterday evening.

Written on Skin at Lincoln Center

Three years ago I made what may have been my single worst decision in a half century of attending opera. I wasn’t paying close attention when some conference organizers in Aix-en-Provence offered me two tickets to the premiere of a new opera. I opted instead for what seemed like a sure thing: William Christie conducting some Charpentier.

Pesaro’s Rossini Festival 2015

The 36th Rossini Opera Festival in Rossini’s Pesaro! La gazza ladra (1817), La gazzetta (1816) and L'inganno felice (1812) — the little opera that made Rossini famous.

Santa Fe: Placid Princess of Judea

Unlike the brush fire in a distant neighborhood of the John Crosby Theatre, Santa Fe Opera’s Salome stubbornly failed to ignite.

Airy and Bucolic Glimmerglass Flute

As part of a concerted effort to incorporate local color and resonance into its annual festival, Glimmerglass has re-imagined The Magic Flute in a transformative woodland setting.

Glimmerglass Conquers Cato

Bravura singing and vibrant instrumental playing were on ample display in Glimmerglass Festival’s riveting Cato in Utica.

Energetic Glimmerglass Candide

Bernstein’s Candide seems to have more performance versions than Tales of Hoffmann.

Die Eroberung von Mexico in Salzburg

That’s The Conquest of Mexico, an historical music drama composed in 1991 by German composer Wolfgang Rihm (b. 1952). But wait. Wolfgang Rihm construed a few sentences of Artaud’s La Conquête du Mexique (1932) mixed up with bits of Aztec chant and bits of poem(s) by Mexico’s Octavio Paz (d. 1998) to make a libretto.

Scottish Sensation at Glimmerglass

Glimmerglass is celebrating its 40th Festival season with a stylish new production of Verdi’s Macbeth.

Norma in Salzburg

This Salzburg Norma is not new news. This superb production was first seen at the Salzburg Festival’s springtime Whitsun Festival in 2013 with this same cast. It will now travel to a few major European cities.

The power of music: a young cast in a semi-stage account of Monteverdi’s first opera

John Eliot Gardiner conducted a much anticipated performance of Monteverdi’s first opera L’Orfeo at the BBC Proms on 4 August 2015, with his own Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

Cold Mountain Wows Audience at Santa Fe World Premiere

On August 1, 2015, Santa Fe Opera presented the world premiere of Cold Mountain, a brand new opera composed by Pulizer Prize and Grammy winner Jennifer Higdon.

Review: You Promised Me Everything

Richard Taruskin entitled his 1988 polemical critique of the notion of ‘authenticity’ in the context of historically informed performance, ‘The Pastness of the Present and the Presence of the Past’.

Manon Lescaut, Munich

Puccini’s Manon Lescaut at the Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich. Some will scream in rage but in its austerity it reaches to the heart of the opera.

Proms Saturday Matinée 1

It might seem churlish to complain about the BBC Proms coverage of Pierre Boulez’s 90th anniversary. After all, there are a few performances dotted around — although some seem rather oddly programmed, as if embarrassed at the presence of new or newish music. (That could certainly not be claimed in the present case.)

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

Gaetano Donizetti
17 Jan 2010

La Fille du Régiment in Montpellier

The Opéra National de Montpellier sometimes rises to artistic heights, and even when it fails its attempts are often interesting.

Gaetano Donizetti: La Fille Du Régiment

Marie: Monica Tarone; Tonio: Manuel Nuñez Camelino; Sulpice: François Harismendy; La Marquise De Birkenfeld: Hanna Schaer; Hortensius: Evgueniy Alexiev; La Duchesse De Krakenthorp: Gilles Yanetti. Conductor: Jean-François Verdier. Stage Director And Lighting: Davide Livermore. Scenery: Pier Paolo Bisleri. Costumes: Gianluca Falaschi.

Photos by Marc Ginot for the Opéra National de Montpellier

 

Its recent holiday offering (December 28 - January 7), Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment directed by Davide Livermore and conducted by Jean-François Verdier, was not among these finer moments of France’s liveliest opera company.

Davide Livermore is an Italian stage director of accomplished technique well able to create a slick production, and that he did in this production originally staged at the Teatro lirico Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, and just now remounted by Mr. Livermore in Montpellier. Unlike his superb Don Giovanni unveiled in Genova several years ago that boasted a smart concept on a brilliantly designed set, this Fille displayed an arbitrary concept in its staging on sets that seemed a textbook exercise in design.

Designer Pier Paolo Bisleri constructed a full stage platform of stolid geometric symmetry and solid color, its two halves reversing direction and splitting to offer an interior for the Berkenfeld manor and then re-reversing for the finale. That was it save for the addition of a dead center formal chandelier flanked by two very grand, very symmetrical neoclassical columns for interior scenes. Neither the platform nor the columns and chandelier responded to the pretend rusticity of the Donizetti story and the sentimental nature of its music.

The formalized setting instead was merely a platform for formalized comedy, updated commedia dell’arte in aspiration. Certainly the inclusion of a great plentitude of lazzi (little tricks incessantly performed, sight-gag after sight-gag so to speak) referred the Livermore staging to the primitive comic stage traditions that had been well surpassed by the time Donizetti was experimenting with larger contours of comedic expression.

This late Donizetti French experiment is a sophisticated spoof of nineteenth century class struggle and imperial ambitions with strongly felt sentiment in music that is meant to be above all else beautiful. Bel canto is elusive. It strives to transcend earthly realities where in fact everything is not beautiful and to escape into a musical realm where everything is.

Bel canto soars when this escape is achieved, but it is as delicate as it is elusive. It needs the hands of specialists to succeed. Instead the Montpellier Opéra placed its Fille in the hands of a novice conductor, Jean-François Verdier, a winner of conducting competitions here and there and perhaps a promising opera newcomer but with no documented previous bel canto encounters. Had the Montpellier Fille taken musical flight perhaps Mr. Livermore’s slick production would not have seemed so cold and boring.

fille_GMA3723-1.gif

There were some outstanding performances, notably the Duchess of Crakentorp played in drag by actor Gilles Yanetti, for once this larger than life presence in Donizetti’s comedy was in fact definitely larger than life. François Harismendy was appropriately convincing as Sulpice and Bulgarian baritone Evgueniy Alexiev was the polished servant Hortensius who labored valiantly to realize Sig. Livermore’s idea of funny antics. Swiss mezzo Hanna Shauer was over-parted as the Marquise de Berkenfeld, with neither the temperament nor voice apparent to inhabit a large comic character.

Italian soprano Monica Tarone as Marie and Argentine tenor Manuel Nuñez Camolino as Tonio made a cute romantic couple that Sig. Livermore rendered as brazen urchins, and that was fun for a while. But Marie had to work too hard to keep it up and we soon tired of her personality. Both Madamoiselle Tarone and Mr. Camolino are accomplished singers. We were deprived however of the pleasures of bel canto in their extended duets and arias maybe by the inexperience in the pit, perhaps by the over-wrought comic processes on the stage, more probably by their roles begging for more nuanced singers.

filleGMA4224-1.gif

Stage colors were primary, with lots of white in the soldiers’ costumes. The lighting, attributed to Mr. Livermore, was striking indeed, popping the characters out into high visual relief and sculpting the chandelier and bas-relief columns in quite beautiful, impeccably balanced stage pictures. Theater artifice seemed Mr. Livermore’s primary objective. His staged tableaus flashed during the overture, with firecrackers precisely timed to the music, promised charm and fun. Neither materialized. And finally the Opéra National de Montpellier simply did not provide sufficient musical and vocal resources to salvage Donizetti’s mid-nineteenth century social comedy.

Michael Milenski

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):