Review: ‘Semiramide’ Returns to the Met, Unglamorous but Excellent Semiramide

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lennygoran
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Review: ‘Semiramide’ Returns to the Met, Unglamorous but Excellent Semiramide

Post by lennygoran » Tue Feb 20, 2018 5:50 pm

There are some nice photos and clips at the link if the NY Times lets you see them. We see this in March. Regards, Len

Review: ‘Semiramide’ Returns to the Met, Unglamorous but Excellent
Semiramide



By ZACHARY WOOLFE FEB. 20, 2018


There is a quiet, noble experiment going on with the Metropolitan Opera’s first revival in 25 years of Rossini’s “Semiramide,” which opened on Monday and runs through March 17.

The Met has lately embraced bel canto works it long ignored — “Anna Bolena,” “La Sonnambula,” “La Donna del Lago,” “Armida,” “Guillaume Tell,” “Le Comte Ory” — and has even made hits out of them. But it has done so almost invariably with stars to anchor the productions. Renée Fleming, Anna Netrebko, Natalie Dessay, Joyce DiDonato, Juan Diego Flórez, Diana Damrau: These are the kind of names who have tended to bring operas by Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini to the Met.

There’s no one on that level of renown in this “Semiramide.” So the question is: Can one of the grand, stylized ocean liners of early-19th-century opera flourish — can the Met, with 4,000 seats to fill and an audience raised with a great-performers fetish, survive — with a cast that isn’t particularly glamorous but is, merely, excellent?

The ticket sales are not, so far, inspiring, but the performance often is.

Based on a Voltaire tragedy of ancient Babylon with nods to “Hamlet” and “Oedipus,” the plot is a heady mixture of romantic intrigue and jockeying for power that unfolds in a sprawling pageant of arias and duets. In the title role of the queen who murders her husband and unwittingly tries to marry her son, the soprano Angela Meade gives her gutsiest Met performance since “Norma” in 2013, her coloratura fireworks amplifying her pride, guilt and fear.

Even with 45 minutes cut from the score, this is a long opera — the conductor Maurizio Benini led a crisp, clear rendition that nevertheless struggled to find variety in the 105-minute first act — and a long part. But if Semiramide seems to tire Ms. Meade no more than it did when she coolly dazzled in it at Caramoor in 2009, her tone has shed the overly pearled sheen it had then; its silver is now warmer.
Semiramide: “Ah! quel giorno ognor rammento” Video by Metropolitan Opera

As Arsace, the Assyrian commander whom Semiramide chooses to marry before learning she is his mother, the mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong has her first really major turn at the Met, which hasn’t seemed to know what to do with her talent. Her voice is more clarinet than trumpet, but it’s agile, even and velvety.
Semiramide: “E se ancor libero” Video by Metropolitan Opera

Javier Camarena continues a brilliant run of bel canto performances in New York. Rossini tenors have often been caricatured as pinched and nasal — you try to hit those high notes! — but Mr. Camarena is melting and nuanced, clarion in coloratura, his sound sunny and earnest. There’s no one better.


Ildar Abdrazakov was forceful as the sneering Assur, but his tone grew gray and woolly in its depths, when it should be its richest. Ryan Speedo Green sounded fuller and more opulent as the high priest, Oroe. Sarah Shafer was sweet and tender in her Met debut as the much-fought-over Princess Azema.


The ghost of the murdered king does spiritual battle with the characters, but a more benevolent spirit seems to preside over this revival: that of the musicologist Philip Gossett, who died last June.

“It is not likely that any one takes ‘Semiramide’ very seriously in these days,” a blessedly unsigned New York Times review said of an 1894 Met performance. If many people now do, Mr. Gossett, as much as anyone, is responsible; among other services to music, he and Alberto Zedda created the critical edition the Met used when it presented “Semiramide” in 1990, for the first time in nearly a century.

Directed then by John Copley (who returned to supervise this revival before being fired a few weeks ago for making what the Met called a “sexually demeaning remark” to a chorister during a rehearsal), the production shamelessly courts camp.

A stage full of Babylonian ruin and rubble is frosted in tarnished gilt. The costumes (by Michael Stennett) time and again challenge your notions of how many different kinds of fabric can coexist in a single gown. The efficiently gaudy show doesn’t have a deep thought in its head but, in its bombastic way, it’s modest and true.


https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/20/arts ... ic-reviews

jbuck919
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Re: Review: ‘Semiramide’ Returns to the Met, Unglamorous but Excellent Semiramide

Post by jbuck919 » Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:38 pm

I may have posted this before, but back when I was coaching my own Academic Team in Maryland, we were at a college-sponsored tournament. Some of these can be very rough. My own team always held its own and occasionally won, but almost any team around here would be creamed by the level of difficulty of the questions. Once the question was, in effect, who composed Semiramide, which was pronounced correctly, and sure enough, a student on another team got Rossini. This is so remarkable for a high school student that I almost fell out of my chair. I made a point of congratulating him afterwards.

There's nothing remarkable about it. All one has to do is hit the right keys at the right time and the instrument plays itself.
-- Johann Sebastian Bach

lennygoran
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Re: Review: ‘Semiramide’ Returns to the Met, Unglamorous but Excellent Semiramide

Post by lennygoran » Wed Feb 21, 2018 7:47 am

jbuck919 wrote:
Tue Feb 20, 2018 9:38 pm
Once the question was, in effect, who composed Semiramide, which was pronounced correctly, and sure enough, a student on another team got Rossini.
That student sure has me beat-on that one and many other opera and classical music names my pronunciation is atrocious. Regards, Len :cry:

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