Friday, 17 February 2012

Carmela Remigio Donna Anna, ROH

As I predicted earlier, of all three Mozart da Ponte operas at the Royal Opera House this season, this second cast of Don Giovanni would be the one to catch.  The singing this evening justified the whole exercise. Erwin Schrott had firm tone in body as well as voice. For a change, it made (some) sense of director Francesca Zambello's bizarre idea that Don Giovanni would dine semi-naked with the Commendatore. Was she trying to suggest Don Giovanni was out to seduce the Stone Guest? Surely a smoothie like Don G would have more finesse. Yet the sight of Schrott with his chest bare and those tight red pants.... sigh!  But Anna Netrebko was sitting in the audience (two seats from me).

The three female parts were stunning. Carmela Remigio, absolutely luscious singing. Please read this interview with her in Opera Today where Mark Berry talks to her about singing both Donna Anna and Donna Elvira.  What a sharply focussed mind she has - no wonder she sings with such poise and intelligence.  Ruxandra Donose's Donna Elvira was passionately Latin, with a wild edge that made sense of the strange costume change. Surely an aristocrat like Donna Elvira wouldn't wear a dirty-looking dress with an uneven hem? Donose is stuck with that outfit, so she uses it to emphasize Donna Elvira's abandon.  Donose is good at creating character - once she vividly explained the dynamic of L'heure espagnole to me. Both Remigio and Donose show how truly experienced singers can make more of a role than they get from some directors.

Also impressive were Kate Lindsey's pert Zerlina, Pavol Breslik's sensitive Don Ottavio, and Matthew Best's Masetto, transformed into a bigger personality than sometimes happens, and not just because Rose is 6 foot 7. Alex Esposito's Leporello suffered from poor directoral concept. No way would a sharp card like Don Giovanni employ a yokel, especially not one so buffoonlike he's more peasant than the peasants. All along, Mozart is telling us that service isn't subservient and that servants and masters can switch.  Zambello should read da Ponte.

Definitely catch this cast if you can. Excellent, enjoyable singing. Pity this very excellence showed up the production!  MORE to come soon, but read the interview - Remigio is so articulate.

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