Saturday, March 19, 2011

The tech demo

Lucia di Lammermoor - Metropolitan Opera, 3/16/2011
Dessay, Calleja, Tezier, Youn / Summers

One more quick look at Lucia before the afternoon's run-ending moviecast (which I won't see until it's on television):

As usual, Wednesday's last pre-moviecast performance was marred by active cameras and monitors all over the house: if you sat near the front of Orchestra or in Side Parterre, the monitoring screens were particularly distracting -- no attempt at all to isolate the light from these screens to only the crew watching them. And moviecast lighting gave the pit much more prominence than usual in the orchestral introductions. Be careful you know what you're getting into when you buy a seat for one of these evenings.

Nevertheless, it was a fantastic performance. The supporting men seemed a shade off, perhaps adjusting and preparing themselves for the big show at week's end. The two principals, however, were undimmed, each going for it rather more than one might have expected. Natalie Dessay's new engagement with the part seems at last to be in full focus -- and it is, in fact, a different take than in the originial run three seasons ago. Her voice, shifted down in its center (the top is now the sticky part), seems with Wednesday's show finally to have filled out to its new shape, and is (by her standard) again full-bodied through its range: though the performance itself wasn't immaculate, the sound was note-for-note satisfying throughout, and the improvement from the run's shaky start quite remarkable. The interpretation has changed too, become a bit more conventional and conventionally Dessay: no longer stifled in all her relations, this Lucia is free and deeply happy within her relationship with Edgardo (the problem is that it has an end), and even shifts into Marie-style happy scurrying around on thinking of him in the first act. This provides a nice contrast with her still and inward misery in Lucia's second-act interactions (quite precisely felt and depicted at this point in the run), and though the never-quite-joyful-until-madness version of Dessay's 2007-08 take was a wonder, there's something to this setup too, where the joy-misery contrast is clear both before and after.

And heck, if you could hear Joseph Calleja sing as he does here every time you met him, who wouldn't be happy? On Wednesday he was perhaps more ardent and more generous with his sound than yet before in this magical run.

There were some minor sync issues, but Summers seems to be sharpening the show up on the phrase level too. We'll see what the afternoon brings.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.