Saturday, February 11, 2006


One can't but admire Angela Gheorghiu for the breadth of her expressive palette, and its judicious application. She effectively blends details from different emotions and expressive traditions -- I think I'm agreeing with Maury here -- without committing too far to any one: an interesting change from her predecessor in the role (other vocal marvels have resorted to this sort of expressive shortcut too, with less pleasing results). But one can't love Gheorghiu either, for almost the same reason: she never commits herself wholly to any moment, never shows more at risk than her impressive control. (Somehow her refusal to do the "Addio del passato" repeat seems another example.)

This isn't another dig at her vocal size, though a real house-shaking climax or two would have gone a ways to filling the gap. I've seen less impressive vocal endowments bring more of the audience to tears. But they were unhampered by the burden of being a star.

Jonas Kaufmann made a fine house debut here as Alfredo. Though the dark baby-heldentenor voice seems a bit odd on broadcast, his first visual impression -- the shock of that scarcely-believable Kenny G mop -- stamped his character indelibly as young.

The stage director for this revival, Kristene McIntyre, seems to have instructed Anthony Michaels-Moore to play Germont as even more stiff and wooden than is traditional: his discomfort and closedness at Violetta's Act II plea to embrace her is total. This makes sense in realistic terms, but, with Michaels-Moore's vocal interpretation being along similar lines, sucks much of the back-and-forth energy out of potentially the most important scene of the opera. Here, though sung in duet, it is experienced essentially solo, with only Violetta reacting. (Michaels-Moore did, however, perfectly embody the dignity of an emotionally wooden man in his impressive "Di Provenza".)

Marco Armiliato conducted well, with good attention to detail, but lacked the poetic touch other conductors have brought. One might say the same of the whole performance.

*     *     *

On opening night, incidentally, the sets caused quite a ruckus of applause and admiration among the audience, particularly when the Act III bedroom rose up to reveal the now-dusty Act I living room downstairs. Apparently Gheorghiu has attracted first-timers to this Traviata production -- a good sign.

1 comment:

  1. so Michaels-Moore was channeling the Commendatore for this performance?


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.