I can’t recall any other world class opera production where you could attribute the phenomenal success of the evening to two Israeli super-talents. In this case: soprano Ira Bertman and conductor Daniel Oren. With Oren this is not much of a surprise – his reputation encompasses the entire opera world. Yet, to listen to the overture of La Forza Del Destino, a regular piece in every basic collection of popular music, and yet to feel like you are hearing it for the first time – this was quite an experience. With Oren the orchestra reached new summits throughout the night, doing so much justice to Verdi’s beautiful score.
Bertman, as well, is not a new face on the opera stage, in Israel or elsewhere. However, it was a pleasure to listen to her and watch her in such a demanding leading role. She was emotional at times and serene and dramatic at others. She was extremely moving with her voice, appearance and interpretation of the role of Leonora, starting from Act I onward. I found myself waiting for her to go on stage again and again.
The high level of opera making did not stop with them. The Korean Bass Simon Lim, as Padre Guardiano, in his Israeli debut, left huge impression with his voice and dramatic presence. So was Baritone Ionut Pascu, a more frequent visitor here, in the role of Don Carlo. Fra Melitone, the comic character of a Franciscan monk, was wonderfully played and sung by the baritone Boris Statsenko, almost stealing the show from the main characters.
Essential elements in the joy from this production were delivered by the great team of designers. Director Maestrini’s stage was consistent with the era and the plot, creating altogether a very special night.