Posts Tagged ‘Lisette Oropresa’

The Enchanted Island, Metropolitan Opera live cinema relay, January 2012

22 January, 2012

Shakespeare’s Tempest with the lovers from Midsummer Night’s Dream thrown in, all to music by Handel, Vivaldi, Rameau, et al, with fabulous costumes, sets, and even mermaids. This enterprising creation by Jeremy Sams, following an original idea by the Met’s general manager Peter Gelb, is an innovative project that really succeeds, particularly in Act II.

Neptune's World, all images MetOpera/Ken Howard

When I first went to opera, back in the days before surtitles, I would avoid reading the synopsis, and enjoy the story as it unfolded, which for something like Tosca was absolutely thrilling. I did the same here, but found Act I overlong, and a bit confusing with these strangers from Dream appearing on Prospero’s Island — perhaps an extra intermission would have helped, but Act II was super.

Prospero and Ariel

Caliban and Sycorax

The singing from some of the cast was inspired, and as soon as Luca Pisaroni made his vocal entrance in the role of Caliban the performance moved into top form. He was terrific, and so was Joyce DiDonato as his mother, the sorceress Sycorax — here she is a real character, rather than an unseen one as in Shakespeare’s play. David Daniels made a wonderfully convincing Prospero, as did Lisette Oropresa as his lovely daughter Miranda, and Danielle de Niese was brilliantly cast as Ariel. Her body movements are flowingly musical and she is such a teasingly good actor. This was a hugely strong cast of principals, with wonderful performances from the lovers:  Layla Claire as Helena, Elizabeth De Shong as Hermia, Paul Appleby as Demetrius and Eliot Madore as Lysander. All were excellent and I thought the two ladies were vocally outstanding. These characters from Midsummer Night’s Dream arrive from the tempest commanded by Prospero, Ariel’s magic spell having gone awry, but Miranda’s future partner Ferdinand is yet to be found. Help is sought from Neptune, whose magnificent appearance in an underwater world complete with chorus and glorious floating mermaids was given vocal heft and buckets-full of gravitas by Placido Domingo. His intervention succeeds, and in Act II countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo made his entrance as Ferdinand singing with a lovely tone.

The lovers from Midsummer Night's Dream

Musically, Jeremy Sams has combined arias and recitatives from various sources, and created a remarkably unified whole, but then that is partly what those masters of the baroque did, poaching from their own earlier compositions. It was all played under the baton of baroque expert William Christie, in a stunning production by Phelim McDermott, who was responsible for the excellent Satyagraha I saw on stage at the English National Opera two years ago (and which was later a Met ‘live in HD’ relay). On this occasion, Julian Crouch was responsible for the clever set designs, and Kevin Pollard for the glorious costumes. Fine lighting by Brian MacDevitt and I loved the dance choreography by Graciela Daniele. Handel would surely have approved, though perhaps with some envy at modern technical abilities to create such an extravaganza. We may no longer have the castrati, but my goodness we have singers who can turn their vocal expertise to the baroque, and our modern lighting and stage effects are unbelievable. Mr. Sams’ creation could start a trend — I rather hope so.

Finally, Shakespeare returns as Prospero speaks those wonderful lines, Our revels now are ended … And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff as dreams are made on …

La Rondine, live relay from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, Jan 2009

27 January, 2009

If this opera were by a lesser composer than Puccini it would be a forgotten work, and indeed the Met has not staged it in 72 years. Its conception arose when Puccini accepted a lucrative contract from Vienna to write an operetta with eight or ten numbers only, the rest to be spoken dialogue. But he rejected the libretto submitted by the Viennese, and the composition of the text was given to the young Giuseppe Adami, who soon afterwards wrote the libretto for Il Tabarro, a dramatically powerful one-act opera. By contrast, La Rondine hovers uneasily between opera and operetta, and although containing some pretty music and technically difficult passages for the soprano, it never really convinces. The story is certainly more appropriate to an operetta: a lively courtesan wants to see what true romance is really like, so she falls in love; but being unable to explain her history to her lover, she reluctantly returns to her life as a courtesan.

It’s a wonderful vehicle for the soprano, and Angela Gheorghiu sang the main role of Magda beautifully, looking and acting the part to perfection. Roberto Alagna sang Ruggero, a newcomer to Paris and the young man she falls in love with. His ardour seemed forceful and shallow at the same time, but this should be judged as an operetta, and when Samuel Ramey, singing the part of Rambaldo, comes on at the end to take Magda back to his life of wealthy frivolity, the superficiality of the story becomes all too apparent. The other love match, between Prunier and Magda’s maid Lisette was well sung by Marius Brenciu and Lisette Oropresa, and she was a delight, hamming the part up to perfection.

The delightful production by Nicolas Joël, with sets by Ezio Frigerio and costumes by Franca Squarciapino, was already staged in London as well as Toulouse and San Francisco, and the young conductor Marco Armiliato, who also directed the Toulouse production, kept things moving and gave the singers plenty of room to express themselves.