SF Lucrezia Borgia Youtube

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lennygoran
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SF Lucrezia Borgia Youtube

Post by lennygoran » Thu Oct 11, 2018 4:40 pm

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What a pleasure to see this opera done traditionally on our 53 inch TV with captions in English in the comfort of our own home as the rain poured down today c/o youtube. If only there were more operas like this from them! We enjoyed this production and although we agree Fleming may not have been at her best I feel the review from the paper below is way too harsh. The singing for the most part was very good and Fleming brought off her final aria wonderfully. Definitely not dull for us! Regards, Len

OPERA REVIEW

By Joshua Kosman Published 4:00 am PDT, Monday, September 26, 2011

'Lucrezia Borgia' review: Dull performance by star


Ask Miss Manners and I'm sure she'll agree: When a company like the San Francisco Opera adds a work to its repertoire specifically as a vehicle for your return, it's only right to pitch in and give a fiercely committed performance, one that will justify the decision.

Yet here was Donizetti's implausible tragedy "Lucrezia Borgia," taking the stage of the War Memorial Opera House on Friday night for the first time. And here was soprano Renée Fleming, returning to the company for her first opera in a decade, and turning in a lazy, theatrically vacuous performance in the title role.


Seriously? Is that how the game is played in the big leagues? Permit me to doubt it.

Fortunately, there was enough strong vocalism on display from the rest of the cast to make Friday's opener seem like more than just a misguided vanity vehicle. And in the pit, a brisk, responsive company debut by conductor Riccardo Frizza helped give the evening a sense of streamlined momentum that was otherwise absent.

But Fleming - swanning about distractedly as if reprising her role of Blanche Dubois in "A Streetcar Named Desire" - added little to the mix, and director-designer John Pascoe's nonsensical and unsightly production, imported from the Washington National Opera, only made the evening more dispiriting.

"Lucrezia Borgia," for all the pleasures of its tuneful score, needs any help it can get. Even the revisionists who keep insisting on finding unsuspected dramatic depth in the melodramas of the bel canto know better than to turn here for support.

Instead of any romantic theme, the opera offers us the infamous Renaissance femme fatale in maternal guise. The tenor lead, Gennaro, is her son but doesn't know it (fisherman foster father - don't ask ), and Lucrezia's assignment is apparently to murder all of Gennaro's drinking companions without letting him wind up on the wrong end of a poisoned chalice.

The only way this works is with a soprano able to use Donizetti's extroverted vocal writing to convey both Lucrezia's bloodthirsty fury and her carefully concealed tenderness for Gennaro. Fleming did neither.

She crooned her way through her opening aria, "Com'è bello," in which Lucrezia encounters Gennaro asleep on a park bench and marvels at his loveliness, pulling and dragging at the beat in a near-parody of expressive phrasing.

Fleming's rhythmic command was quirky all night, and her tone, though still lush and often full of bloom in the upper range, fell quickly out of focus in low-lying passages. The coloratura showpiece that concludes the opera found her at her best, even if such vocal pyrotechnics don't emerge with the glittering ease she once displayed.

But the most dismaying aspect of Fleming's performance was its lack of dramatic engagement. In "Com'è bello" she kept her eyes glued to the audience. At a key revelatory moment in Act 2, Fleming cried "Heavens," as directed by the score, but reacting otherwise to something happening all the way on the other side of the stage was evidently too much trouble.

Happily, the rest of the cast stood ready to pick up the slack.

Tenor Michael Fabiano made a dashing company debut as Gennaro, breathing vivid life into the role's improbable conflicts and singing with both graceful lyricism and full-throated ardor. As his boon companion, Maffio Orsini, mezzo-soprano Elizabeth DeShong gave an energetic and vocally forthright performance, and both singers reached their heights with a vivid, superbly delivered account of their duet in the final act.

But the real star of the evening was bass-baritone Vitalij Kowaljow, who gave a thrillingly robust and commanding account of the all-too-brief role of Duke Alfonso, Lucrezia's jealous husband. When Kowaljow made his first appearance at the beginning of Act 2, it was as if the entire performance moved into three dimensions.

Among the cluster of supporting roles, the standouts were Adler Fellow Ryan Kuster - a powerhouse as Astolfo - and baritone Igor Vieira as Lucrezia's weaselly agent Gubetta. Ian Robertson's Opera Chorus sang vigorously but without much flavor.

Pascoe's production plays out amid a series of huge, ugly brick buildings that give no hint of Renaissance opulence (the lurid costumes are for that) and can't seem to decide whether to be dull or pointlessly provocative. Dullness predominates, with an emphasis on stand-and-sing blocking, but periodically Pascoe spices things up by turning ducal retainers into synchronized chorus girls.

The low point comes with a sudden and unsupported swerve into homoeroticism between Gennaro and Orsini. You can almost hear the desperate pleading: "Are we edgy and transgressive yet? Please say yes!"

https://www.sfgate.com/performance/arti ... 308194.php

maestrob
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Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 11:30 am

Re: SF Lucrezia Borgia Youtube

Post by maestrob » Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:49 am

Ouch! Yes, that was harsh! Fleming has been known to phone in an occasional performance, but I doubt she would sabotage this one on purpose, unless she was having a bad night vocally and had to concentrate on her technique.

Blaming the singer for poor direction is just not right! If she wasn't reacting properly, that's the director's fault, not hers.

lennygoran
Posts: 14129
Joined: Tue Mar 27, 2007 9:28 pm
Location: new york city

Re: SF Lucrezia Borgia Youtube

Post by lennygoran » Fri Oct 12, 2018 3:21 pm

maestrob wrote:
Fri Oct 12, 2018 11:49 am
Blaming the singer for poor direction is just not right! If she wasn't reacting properly, that's the director's fault, not hers.
Brian, while this production was pretty traditional--something I really like-the more I think about the homoeroticism between Gennaro and Orsini the more I feel that was unnecessary-some critics agree with me on this. Regards, Len.

"Towering brick walls and a half-flight of steps dead center stultify the sets. Misguided and unnecessary homoerotic overtones between Gennaro and Orsini (toned down from opening night) muddy the relationships and only confuse the already befuddling plot. Best if the singers just unleash their voices and not worry about much else."

http://seenandheard-international.com/2011/10/8934/


"The same could not be said for director and designer John Pascoe, whose extensive program note paints Lucrezia as the victim of a male-dominated 16th-century society. Hence, perhaps, the towering walls, the gloomy lighting by Jeff Bruckerhoff, and the masses of black-clad males -- though why the costumes had a shiny finish that made them look like space alien suits out of "Star Trek" is hard to say. The directing, other than the jarring choice to make the Gennaro-Maffio relationship explicitly homoerotic, was limited, and Ms. Fleming suffered the most from it. She seemed not to know what to do with her hands, and her final scene with her dying son played, alas, like a positioning challenge rather than a heart-wrenching pietà."

https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122653264343622429

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