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Archive for October, 2019

My first encounter with Lisette Oropesa took place in her Met debut as Susanna, replacing Isabel Bayrakdarian. Her singing was fresh and charming and I knew she would go places. Mozart was there again for the second time I saw her as Ismene in a Mitridate in Munich. There my impression was a bit tamer. She seemed busy with the notes and sparkled only intermittently. As I last met her as Gilda at the Met she was fully in control of the coloratura and other technical challenges but rather self-contained and detached in terms of interpretation . Then the news of her success in Les Huguenots in Paris, the Richard Tucker Award and leading roles in Europe and back in New York made me seize the opportunity to see her recital at the Theatro Municipal in Rio de Janeiro.

She offered an ambitious bel canto and French Romantic arias concert, a showcase of her later roles. She started off with the entrance aria of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor, in which she proved alert to the text and nimble in her fioriture sung in perfect legato. As in other items of the program, she treads lightly in extreme high notes but provides athletically supported in alts in her puntature. And the trills are beyond reproach. Her second aria was Adieu, notre petite table from Massenet’s Manon, a number that let her show the clarity and the idiomatic quality of her French, a serviceable low register and an innate grasp of French style. Actually, the old-fashioned grain of her velvety soprano is tailor-made for that repertoire, where the absence of flashiness in her high notes is less of a liability than in bel canto roles (especially in big theatres). The first part of the evening was rounded off with the entrance aria of Bellini’s La Sonnambula. Actually, Bellini flatters Ms. Oropesa’s ease with long lines, her flickering vocal production keeping those elegiac phrases alive. Also, her whole attitude is extremely proper to ingénue roles, which benefit from her warm, feminine personality. And again – the coloratura was accurately and joyfully dispatched.

After the interval, her open-eyed youthfulness made her Marguérite credible and less of a Dummkopf in Ah, je ris from Gounod’s Faust. The next item in the program, musicianly sung as it was, showed that Verdi and Puccini should not be – at least at this point – her core repertoire. There is no sense of radiance and liberation in Magda’s high notes in Ch’il bel sogno from La Rondinelli, even if she sang them with abandon. Back to Bellini, she was again in her safe place as Elvira in a heartfelt mad scene from I Puritani, crowned by lovely pianissimi. The encore – Juliette’s waltz from Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette only confirmed that French opera is probably where she is going to make a difference.

The house orchestra might keep you on the edge of your seat in its unreliability and the overture to Rossini’s Guillaume Tell was a bumpy ride. Conductor Yuval Zorn slowly regained his pace in the Méditation from Massenet’s Thaïs. The spalla may not have the world’s most glamorous tone but floated his tone and provided tasteful portamento comme il  faut. After the pause, the orchestra seemed to have warmed and, in spite of some blunders in the brass section, displayed richer sounds in its strings, especially in the nocturne from Carlos Gomes’s Condor.

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