Readers of the old blog might remember my constant disappointment with Rio’s Theatro Municipal’s house orchestra and chorus – I have seen some catastrophic performances there, but once in a while you could see that they could do something decent (for example, when Gabor Ötvös conducted Elektra there with Marilyn Zschau and Leonie Rysanek).
Maybe it is only a coincidence, but the first time I saw conductor Roberto Minczuk was in that theatre, although he was conducting the Orquestra Sinfônica Brasileira. That orchestra used to be in bad shape too and Minczuk finally showed it could offer a decent performance (and a Richard Strauss Tone poem is definitely something that could give evidence of that).
Today Minczuk proved to be a good doctor for ailing orchestras. After decades of concert-going in Rio’s opera house, I can finally say I’ve seen a thoroughly good performance with the house forces. Never before had I listened to that orchestra not only fully prepared, but also offering rich beautiful sounds in every dynamic level. Also, the chorus showed unusual homogeneity and control. It still has some sharp angles, but this level of discipline is definitely a novelty. Truth be said, I cannot say much about Minczuk’s view about Dvorak’s Stabat Mater. He obviously loves the music and gave a dramatic large-scale account of the score, but the problem is I don’t share his love for the piece, which sounds over-sentimentalized to my ears (I am afraif I am too used to Pergolesi’s or Vivaldi’s approach to this text).
I was also impressed by the good team of soloists gathered for this concert. Although Elizabeth Woodhouse’s reedy soprano lacks focus in exposed high passages, she can float mezza voce without any effort, as this music requires. Adriana Clis’s lustrous firm mezzo soprano is always a treat to the ears and she negotiates her registers with mastery. Reginaldo Pinheiro displays a healthy dulcet tenor and phrases affectingly. Only some explosive high notes stand between him and complete success in this music. Last but not least, Hernán Iturralde (whom I had seen a while ago in Ullmann’s Der Kaiser von Atlantis at the Teatro Colón) gave a most impressive account of the bass part – his large and supple voice operates on a rich tonal palette.