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01 May, 2006

Met Rigoletto. Gavanelli trumphs. Water-sphere man a side show - only in New York!

Metropolitan Opera Company, Broadway and 64th St, New York City

1st May 2006

RigolettoPaolo Gavanelli
GildaNorah Amsellem
DukeRoberto Aronica
MaddalenaNancy Fabiola Herrera
GiovannaKathryn Day
SparafucileRobert Lloyd
MonteroneJames Courtney

ConductorAsher Fisch
ProdOtto Schenk
Set and costumesZack Brown
LightingGil Weschler
Stage DirectorSharon Thomas

Dear Colleagues,

This was a welcome surprise in the middle of a month of opera in New York. I had not heard Aronica or Gavanelli before but they were both magnificent artists with special qualities to savour. Ms Amsellem was also interesting, possessed of a strong, highly placed, pure soprano voice. She took the penultimate E flat in 'Si, vendetta' but avoided the high options at the end of the quartet and storm scene. 'Caro nome' was sung tastefully, ending with a long, accurate trill.

In several places, notably the first act 'La maledizione' and the end of the tempest scene, the orchestra was too loud for the singers to be heard. Mr Aronica omitted his (optional) high note in the second act cabaletta as he is 'called to his love' (like most other tenors). "Quest'e quella" was excellent with a finely schooled chorus for the opening party scene.

"Cortigiani, vil razza" was a tour-de-force by Mr Gavanelli. The quality of his voice has a rich velvet reminiscent of Warren and a forte/piano approaching that of Milnes. The voice is very large but he uses the full range tastefully unlike many other on-off singers.

Fisch took the orchestra at nice paces with the above proviso on volume. He may forget he is conducting one of the largest opera orchestras in a hall with excellent acoustics.

The production is another Otto Schenk collaboration - beautiful and 'realistic', transporting one to an imagined past time in Mantua. Not a detail is spared . from bare winter vine strands on the roof balustrade to wild grass growing in the floor tile cracks away from the pallazzo. The last act, set in the outskirts is particularly clever, incorporating the river bank, wharf and hostellery. Even at the Met it seems impossible to avoid an audience gasping with recognition with 'La donna e mobile' . which was masterfully sung by Mr Aronica with a marvellous finale scene in-the-sack. His finale exclamation was little less than magnificent, earning a deserved ovation from the demanding Met audience.

Comments by Andrew Byrne ..

David Blaine
David Blaine

(Added side-show was David Blaine in his sphere of water next to the Lincoln Centre fountain - WEIRD!!).