Thursday, May 07, 2009

Met: Cenerentola

The Metropolitan Opera
Friday, May 1, 2009, 8:00 pm

La Cenerentola
Gioachino Rossini

Conductor: Maurizio Benini
Angelina: Elina Garanca
Don Ramiro: Lawrence Brownlee
Dandini: Simone Alberghini
Don Magnifico: Alessandro Corbelli
Alidoro: John Relyea

Production: Cesare Lievi

I was luckily able to attend this 1st performance of the Met's revival of Cenerentola & sit in a plush orchestra seat. The 1st thing I discovered is that The Ring is not the only opera prone to brass mishaps. There was a huge trumpet blooper right at the end of the overture that elicited murmurs around me.

This whole production is just hugely charming. Even before it starts, the stage is set with a line of shoes in front of the scrim. The characters inhabit a world of over-sized doors, furniture & props. Alidoro sprouts wings. The footmen wear suits & bowler hats like figures from a Magritte painting. Cenerentola's ball gown arrives in a wardrobe lowered to the stage on a giant hook. During the storm scene, Don Magnifico's umbrella bursts into a brilliant fire. This seems to be a concept production, only I never could figure out what the concept was.

All of the cast are wonderful in their roles, from the squabbling, slapstick sisters to John Relyea's Alidoro in multiple disguises (his #1 Fan Club would be tickled). Garanca in the title role is warm & embracing in both voice & stage presence, though she actually doesn't seem to have much to sing until the very end. Lawrence Brownlee has an amazingly high, pleasant voice. He got an extended ovation for his Act II aria in which he hit a string of very secure high notes. Corbelli is of course a great comic singer/actor, though in some ways his character is actually quite mean. There are a lot of ensembles, & the Act II sextet with its staccato theme was especially tight & in tune. The conducting of Mauizio Benini was fittingly graceful & light.

Best of all about this performance was that I could feel that the audience was completely rapt the entire evening. There was no restlessness, no coughing fits. Everyone was just too busy enjoying the show.


Stephanie Dodaro said...

The Relyea-related mortification continues...

Immanuel Gilen said...

The concept had something to do with surrealism, I think, but I can't figure out just how...

Axel Feldheim said...

Dodaro: Yes, I believe that Mr. Relyea's fan club will live on as long as there are people to read the Web. But I am afraid that you fan club members have only yourselves to blame.

Gilen: I was thinking the same thing, but like you I really couldn't grasp how it fits with the opera itself. I think the production works in spite of the vague concept, though.