Friday, 4 December 2015

#ROHcavpag - Cavalleria Rusticana / Pagliacci at the Royal Opera House - Dress Rehearsal

Aleksandrs Antonenko, Dimitri Platanias, Carmen Giannattasio with the ROH Chorus.
I was delighted to see the general dress rehearsal of Ruggero Leoncavallo's triumphant twin operas of love, jealously and passion. On Monday (30th November 2015) the Royal Opera House had its general dress rehearsal of the double bill staged, provincial Italian styled production, by director Damiano Michieletto (who caused a controversial storm over what critics called 'a gratuitous rape scene' in this year's production of Guillaume Tell), with designer Paolo Fantin. 
Preparing for the Live Relay

Eva-Maria Westbroek sings the role of Santuzza in the first 'melodramma' in one act, which she had done at the Met Opera this year. I had seen her perform as Maddalena (Andrea Chénier) and Anna (Anna Nicole) at Covent Garden yet seeing her as Santuzza was completely spell-bounding. It is the best I have ever seen her. 

There are no words to describe the performance of Aleksandrs Antonenko as Canio in Pagliacci. I recently saw him as Otello at the Live in HD broadcast from the Met, however, seeing him on stage was far more potent. The tenor roles of Otello and Canio have something in common - jealously, and watching him point at the mirror as he sung the glorious vesti la giubba made hairs stand on end. It was truly amazing. An audience member behind me said, "oh, the suspense!"

Pappano, Martina Belli, Elena Zilio, Eva-Maria Westbroek,  Carmen Giannattasio, Dimitri Platanias and Benjamin Hulett.
The production showed the various dimensions of Dimitri Platanias singing three roles of Alfio (Cavalleria Rusticana), prologue (Pagliacci) and Tonio (Pagliacci). The only time I had a drop of sympathy for him was seeing him as a representative of the stage singing the words, ' we are men of flesh and blood, we breathe the air, just like you!'

Royal Opera House Chorus singers
There were outstanding performances from Carmen Giannattasio and Martina Belli as the seductive and promiscuous wives,  Nedda (Pagliacci) and Lola (Cavalleria Rusticana). The most touching duet was between Dionysios Sourbis and Giannattasio singing as Silvio (Pagliacci) and Nedda. 

I enjoyed the fine singing of Benjamin Hulett as stage creature, Arlecchino. Just wished there was more words for him to sing! And Elena Zilio moved me from the moment the curtains were lifted as she looked over her murdered son, Turiddu (Antonenko). Seeing her embrace a weeping and regretful Santuzza (Westbroek) was also an emotional scene. 

Antonio Pappano was spirited throughout his conducted of Leoncavallo's gorgeous music with its wave-after-wave of soul-stirring tension. And there wasn't an ounce of stage misconduct from Michieletto. Possibly the best production I've seen so far this year at the Royal Opera House. Will Eugene Onegin top this? We shall just have to see.
Pappano, Martina Belli, Elena Zilio, Eva-Maria Westbroek,  Carmen Giannattasio, Dimitri Platanias and Benjamin Hulett.

Performances are showing until the 1st of January 2016.  Click here to buy tickets.
It is also available to see in cinemas across the globe on December 10th. Go to your nearest cinemas. (Click here for more information on ROH Screenings.) Alternatively queue up early for day tickets, which are available every day from 10am. 

More Links:
 Andre Chenier review with Jonas Kaufmann and Eva-Maria Westbroek (Click here).

Otello - Live in HD from MetOpera with Aleksandrs Antonenko review (Click here).

Anna Nicole with Eva-Maria Westbroek (Click here).