Thursday, April 29, 2010

Addicted to love

Armida -- Metropolitan Opera, 4/27/2010
Fleming, Brownlee, Banks, Osborn, Volpe, Miller, van Rensburg / Frizza

A quick post to note the remarkable form of lead tenor Lawrence Brownlee in Tuesday night's performance: contra my misgivings last time, Brownlee offered clear and impressive singing from beginning to end, with a sound that occasionally recalled the young Ramon Vargas -- himself a supreme Rossini tenor before he moved on to become the most stylish lyric voice of our time. Brownlee's acting is still pretty simple, but the comparison to Juan Diego Florez was not necessarily fair. It has seemed to me that Florez's superiority in heartfelt lyricism has gone hand-in-hand with a reluctance to stray from the sensitive lover's persona. (Perhaps his darker, less sympathetic role in next season's Le Comte Ory will change this.) Brownlee shows less finesse but handles the disparate sides (heroic, proud, love-besotted, love-detoxing) of Rinaldo's character with aplomb.

On this night, Barry Banks sang two tenor roles, filling in for the ill Jose Manuel Zapata at the start before singing his original last-act character. Also impressive, though the latter part sounded more comfortable for him.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.