Norma encore

Back to the Four Seasons Centre last night for a second look at Norma.  This time with Elza van den Heever singing the title role.  Van den Heever has a more conventional voice than Sondra Radvanovsky.  It’s perhaps not as dramatic and distinct but it’s an accurate, flexible instrument with plenty of colours and big enough for the role.  She’s also every bit as good as an actress so I don’t think the production suffers from losing its “headliner”.  Russell Thomas impressed again.  He’s so much better as Pollione than he was as Don José.  The acting is convincing and he really gets the chance to let rip here with what is a truly glorious tenor voice.  All the obvious comparisons suggest and are not ridiculous.  Isabel Leonard was also very fine last night and the duets with van den Heever were perhaps the highlight of the show.  Hat tip too to Charles Sy who never sounded out of place even when Thomas was singing all guns blazing,  It’s only two years since he was singing in a student production of HMS Pinafore.

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The Met’s Maria Stuarda on DVD

Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda featured in the MetHD series in January 2013 and has now been released on DVD.  My review of the cinema broadcast is here.  It’s always a bit different watching the DVD rather than the cinema version but in this case I think my somewhat different reaction has a lot to do with having recently seen various versions of the other Schiller/Donizetti Tudor queen operas, especially Stephen Lawless’ Roberto Devereux at the COC.

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More Tudor queens

confrontationToday’s MetHD broadcast of Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda was a bit of a mixed bag.  There were some really good performances.  Joyce DiDonato in particular gave what may well have been a truly great performance and I would have loved to have seen it live.  David McVicar’s production was much better than his Anna Bolena; visually interesting and with some strong dramatic ideas.  However the good was pretty seriously undermined by another really awful piece of video directing by Gary Halvorson.  I guessed it was him after about ten minutes. The incessant use of the nose cam and the incredibly irritating low level tracking shots were a dead give away.  It was a big disappointment since the last two shows I saw, La Clemenza di Tito and Les Troyens, were filmed by Barbara Willis-Sweete and had given me some faint hope that the Met was capable of self analysis and improvement in this area.  Hope that was, alas, sadly dashed today.

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