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Posts Tagged ‘Opera Narodowa’

Although Poland is the birthplace of some bright starts of the operatic firmament (only last week I saw Aleksandra Kurzak and Artur Rucinski in the Royal Opera House’s Lucia di Lammermoor and, by the end of the week, Piotr Beczala and Tomasz Konieczny in Dresden), the Opera Narodowa in Warsaw is not truly stellar in its otherwise healthy and steady season.

My first visit to the Teatr Welki for a performance of Verdi’s Aida led me to an auditorium the “Ostalgie”-charm of which had the effect of preparing my spirit to a production very similar in style to the ballet that Julie Andrews and Paul Newman watch in Alfred Hitchcock’s Torn Curtain. Then I discovered that Roberto Laganà Manoli’s staging was premiered in 2005. Let’s say that seeing Radamès die in a pink robe added a new perspective to the closing scene.

Although the house orchestra is not truly competitive (but the chorus has some very impressive basses), Patrick Fournillier seemed determined to make these musicians work for their money. His tempi were swift, his accents were bold and he never missed an opportunity for theatrical effects. Conducting an act IV with an underpowered mezzo can be tricky – but Mr. Fournillier managed to keep her hearable without ruining excitement.

Lucrezia García was born to sing Verdi – her soprano is rich yet focused, has a distinctive reedy quality, softens for mezza voce when necessary and plunges into chest voice with naturalness. She also has clear diction and sense of style – and the voice is voluminous enough. Although she has made progress since I first saw her as Elisabetta in Don Carlo some years ago in Berlin, she is still dramatically uninvolved and dangerously matter-of-fact in her interpretation. Also, her act-3 aria – even better than most – showed her overly cautious and purely concerned with producing a high c and ending it as fast as possible, the feeling mostly left for imagination. As much as everybody else in this role, she would show some fatigue during the duet with the tenor, but still produced beautifully floated notes. With a little bit more discipline and involvement, this could become a major performance, but it is not yet it.

Korean tenor Rudy Park, as many singers from that part of the world, are extremely reverent to a style of Italian singing as one could hear in Milan or in Rome in the 1950’s. In casu, he seems to be channelling Mario del Monaco in his every turn of phrase. This rarely is a formula to success, but the fact is: Mr. Park sounds like a true tenore di forza. The voice is slightly artifficially darkened, but it is still very, very big and his high notes are always firm and forceful, presiding over a loud orchestra and crowded ensembles. These are qualities hard to overlook, but I’m afraid Verdi expected this part still should sound like music, i.e., it should feature qualities such as legato, dynamic variety, tonal colouring etc. He also does look like someone who could kill a person with a stage sword, what is always a plus for a character supposed to lead an army.

Although Andrzej Dobber’s baritone has its rusty moments, his Amonasro is still effective in a raw, Tito Gobbi-like way. I’d rather not comment on the Amneris – I tried to play Stefania Toczyska in my mind during the Judgment Scene.

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