Friday, November 22, 2013


Rigoletto - Metropolitan Opera, 11/15/2013
Hvorostovsky, Lungu, Polenzani, Volkova, Kocan / Heras-Casado

A listener could, depending on one's emphases and tastes, reasonably find each major part of this revival either successful or unsuccessful, and it's hard to say which thread dominates. Let me clarify...

Irina Lungu, Gilda.
Good: acts well, looks the part, full-size sound. Bad: broad wobbly vibrato already.
Oksana Volkova, Maddalena.
Good: singing, acting. Bad: she was such a good Olga that it's hard to picture her as an assassin's sister now.
Matthew Polenzani, Duke.
Good: characteristically lovely lyric sound. Bad: too nice for the Duke, money notes aren't at the top.
Pablo Heras-Casado, conductor.
Good: energetic. Bad: noticeable ensemble and stage/pit coordination issues.
Stefan Kocan, Sparafucile.
Good: OK, everything. He's great.
Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Rigoletto.
Good: With a hump and ridiculous bald spot, Hvorostovsky seemed thrillingly liberated from the burden of being the handsome "barihunk" sex symbol. This particularly energized the court scenes, in which he found a specificity and nervous presence I've never before seen in this warhorse. Bad: There's little straightforward about Hvorostovsky, and so if you expect his "private" interaction with Gilda to reveal his unmasked direct fatherly truth rather than another intense but not-fully-revealing persona, well, prepare for disappointment. Also the usual thing about his voice's perhaps too-coherent/uniform texture that doesn't really expand out for Verdian climaxes...

Personally I found Hvorostovsky fascinating and illuminating to watch (only problem is I can't think of too many other "ugly guy" roles for him), Lungu uncomfortable to hear, Heras-Casado's ensemble trouble a drag, and the rest fine. But your milage may vary.

Note that the remaining performances feature another new Russian soprano (Sonya Yoncheva) in place of Lungu.

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Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.