This production has attracted much attention: not only has the entire run nearly sold out at the box office, but trade in tickets, on eBay is both brisk and unprecedented. This interest cannot merely be ascribed to the prevalence (and deep pockets) of Verdi-loving enthusiasts, but rather to the trio of mega-watt performers, namely Russian soprano Anna Netrebko, German tenor Jonas Kaufmann, and Ludovic Tézier, who is both French and arguably the finest Verdi baritone alive today.
Set in Spain, the narrative is essentially driven by a desire for vengeance. The story starts with family conflict, when the sneering Marquis of Calatrava refuses to allow his daughter, Leonora, to marry Don Alvaro, the man she loves who is also of mixed race. When Don Alvaro fatally shoots the Marquis by accident this brings the dreams of the young couple to an abrupt end. They flee in different directions to evade the bloody vengeance of Leonora’s brother, Don Carlo. All of this occurs against the backdrop of war and political turmoil. Inevitably, this is a saga that ends in a tragedy.
There have been cast changes during the run. On the night in question, Liudmyla Monastyrska, replaced Netrebko as Leonora. Monastyrska’s Leonora is beautifully drawn both dramatically and vocally. Her passion, fear, and anguish are articulated with pitch perfect intensity and coloratura. Kaufmann’s Don Alvaro makes an altogether dramatic and romantic entrance: he strides into his lover’s living room through the window – a feat executed with unquestionable panache. He soars straight into ardent song in the firm belief that he and Leonora will wed that very night. His Don Alvaro is passionate without being sentimental. Kaufmann’s vocal control is magnificent and yet vibrant with a sense of spontaneity. He brings Don Alvaro to life with his enormous operatic talents and skilled dramatic flair.
Kaufmann’s Don Alvaro is brilliantly matched by Tézier’s performance as Don Carlo. The confrontation of the tenor and the baritone is totally gripping. Kaufmann, tenor, and Tézier, baritone, sing in exquisite harmony even when one is challenging the other to a duel or when Don Carlo makes clear his intention to take vengeance and kill Don Alvaro. Tézier’s vocal range is thrillingly rich and generous. His pronounced aristocratic emphasis seemingly prolongs phrases and conveys his lofty social standing, as befits the son of a Marquis.
Christof Loy’s production, first staged in Amsterdam at the Dutch National Opera House in 2017, exploits the magnificent orchestral overture. Even before the action begins, Loy previews scenes from the Marquis’ household in
The conductor, Tony Pappano, is probably the world leading expert of Verdi’s music. Under his musical direction, the musical performance is sublime.
Alessandro Corbelli, the buffo bass, elicits laughs as Melitone, the irascible monk, and adeptly extracts bitter humour from the otherwise bleak narrative. Veronica Simeoni’s Preziosilla, a war-loving gypsy, is presented as a seductive bellydancer accompanied by a band of lusty male followers. Simeoni’s dance is beguiling, yet her singing leaves the audience wanting. The choreography offers a brief light reprieve from the grim unfolding tragedy. The somber and rigid patriarch, the Marquis of Calatrava is wonderfully portrayed by Robert Lloyd, whose 80th birthday is approaching. The chorus
A memorable performance!
- Music: Giuseppe Verdi
- Libretto: Francesco Maria Piave
- Conductor: Antonio Pappano
- Original director: Christof Loy
- Associate director: Georg Zlabinger
- Cast includes: Liudmyla Monastyrska, Jonas Kaufmann, Ludovic Tézier, Ferruccio Furlanetto, Alessandro Corbelli, Veronica Simeoni
- The Royal Opera House
- Until: 22 April 2019
- Duration: 3 hours 55 minutes, including two intervals