Luisa Miller - Verdi - Sydney Opera House Thursday 11 Feb 2016
Luisa Miller in Sydney is vocally magnificent and is a MUST-SEE show for
the season.Get a ticket quickly as
there are only seven performances in all.This Verdi gem came just before Rigoletto - and it shows some of the
same father - daughter interactions, combined with a parallel father - son
relationship causing insoluble tensions only resolved by death (poisoning this
time - and only after a lot of magnificent singing).
Nicole Car has all that it takes for this taxing dramatic and vocal
role.I cannot understand why she
appears in three negligees when everyone else is in 20th century
attire.The reason she has to spend so
much time on the ground is that there are no props on stage apart from wire
chairs, mostly on their sides.The
protagonists’ castles have no couches, no tables, no doors, windows, stairs or
fireplaces … just bare black ramped stage.No problem, we can imagine all of the above … but why then did we need
to see an inane slow-motion roller-coaster during the overture, replete with
chorus slowly encircling the stage with out-sized candles?Luna Park did better 50 years ago.Do they really think that we need something
extraneous to keep us awake during what might be Verdi’s best overture?Any activity on stage necessarily detracts
from what the composer wanted and what his audience deserves.
The same rote chorus manoeuvre happened during the opera’s most famous
aria, partially obscuring Mr Torre as he sang ‘Quando le sere al placido’ to
enormous and well deserved applause.In
this long tenor scene Mr Torre did not quite pace himself and ran short on
voice just before the end - a small failing considering the feat … and for the
final scenes the voice returned intact and full heft.
One wonders if the artistic contributors actually like opera … they
certainly don’t understand it from this outing to my mind.And they seem to have collaborated with
tobacco companies, and distractingly so.The co-production from Lausanne originally planned to have the
monochrome epoxy Tussaud’s domestic scene swung up 90 degrees around to be
at the rear of the stage but in Sydney it ends up high above it.It is so badly designed that (if it mattered) half the
audience could not see a cream gentlemen and top-hat BEHIND the huge cream fire
place, whatever significance that may have had.But they do make fine watches in Switzerland.
Luisa’s father is played by Slovak baritone Mr Dalibor Jenis who is
possessed of a large and expressive voice and dramatic skills to boot.We heard his Onegin two years ago and I hope
we will be hearing more of him in the future, such is the rare beauty of his
voice and his ability to nail an exciting high note when required.
Almost uniquely, this opera calls for two basses, local Daniel Sumegi as
‘Wurm’ and American Raymond Aceto as Count Walter.They both need to portray profound evil as
each has dark secrets which are ably conveyed in the wonderful Verdi
score.Both sang with skill and
conviction and their famous duet was stunning.
The orchestra under Andrea Licata was responsive and tireless.The solo clarinettist was not credited in the
program hand-out despite being featured prominently in the opera, starting with
Both Rigoletto and Luisa Miller contain vocal and dramatic experiments
and it is self evident that the former were more successful than the
latter.Some of the vocal lines in Luisa
Miller are more acrobatic than elegant with staccato and stepping
progressions.Yet we have a rare opera
with an excellent cast in our distant opera world which is indeed a privilege
and an opportunity for any opera lover.Tickets from $44 to $300 nobody should miss out but it is selling fast.