Friday, April 17, 2015

A Verdi soprano

I wanted to wait until I finished a full review of the several Don Carlo performances I've seen in the past weeks, but that may take a while to get to. So, a quick word on Wednesday night's house debut of Lianna Haroutounian.

Simply put, she is a real Verdi soprano -- already the most exciting and appropriate in these middle-weight parts besides Sondra Radvanovsky (who has other mountains to climb next season). Haroutounian is not yet (and may never be) the tragedienne Barbara Frittoli is and was as Elisabetta, but from start to finish the scope and physical thrill of her voice was revelatory, if not quite heartbreaking. And I don't want to short-change her non-vocal abilities: she was actually quite a good actress, and if her phrasing to start was a bit disconnected and cautious, she warmed up over the course of the night to one of the most electric accounts of "Tu che la vanita" I've heard live. (The high notes she unleashed throughout this last act didn't hurt.)

Now there have been other sopranos who've had big success here in non-Traviata Verdi (not least Amber Wagner), but most lack either the vocal weight/size (like Frittoli!) or flexibility or just the temperament (Angela Meade) to make for an ideal fit over multiple roles and runs. Haroutounian has all of the above, and perhaps the most essential thing besides: those free, spacious high notes that arc out in perfect sonic representation of the Verdi heroine's longing and sorrow. None besides Radvanovsky deliver in this way.

Oh yes -- as I overheard some attendees noting during intermissions, Haroutounian is also attractive. And with mostly Verdi booked (apart from a Tosca in SF), she seems to know what she's good at.