REVIEW: Adriana Lecouvreur at the Met (for Opéra Magazine)

90This one requires some explanation. For the French Opéra Magazine, I reviewed the Met’s Adriana Lecouvreur with Anna Netrebko et al. I wrote my review in English (my French is passable but not up to this), and they translated. I was thrilled to get my first international reviewing gig, and it was delightful to see my words translated (deftly, I think) into another language.

You can read it for yourselves below. The published French version is first; my original English version follows.

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8 Janvier 2019
Adriana Lecouvreur (Francesco Cilea)
Metropolitan Opera

The Metropolitan Opera rang in the New Year with Adriana Lecouvreur, and it proved a festive occasion, rapturously received by the public and most critics. A week later at the third performance, the enthusiasm remained high.

The news here was not so much Sir David McVicar’s production, new to the Met but previously seen at Covent Garden and elsewhere – a traditional, pictorial, rather grand setting that fills the large stage and offers some detailed character work for the ensemble but few specific insights.

Rather, the interest is in four singers – all Met favorites – who function as an exceptionally well-matched quartet, with a local role debut that particularly caught fire.

First and foremost, of course, was Anna Netrebko’s Adriana – her first assumption of the role at the Met, where she has been a particular favorite since her official debut in 2002.

Each season finds her voice and persona evolving. The magically floated high pianissimi remain, but the vocal core is now lower, darker, more hooded and voluminous. It’s a fascinating and distinctively individual tonal mix, but it takes a while now for her to warm up and for “les deux voix” to sound fully integrated. In particular, the opening aria, “Io son l’umille ancella” had some uncertain pitch, but the final act found Netrebko in peak form vocally and dramatically. Adriana suits her peculiar but endearing blend of glamour and sincerity, and “Poveri fiori” and her death scene were exceptionally powerful.

Anita Rachvelishvili is also an established Met artist, having made a successful debut as Carmen in 2002. But there is general agreement that recent seasons have found her in especially good form. Here, her Princess of Bouillon set a new standard, the huge voice unleashed with generosity and firmness. Her chest register, boldly used, was particularly impressive, yet she retained the lyricism needed in the character’s softer music. Rachvelishvili made a suitable opponent for Netrebko in every sense.

The supporting baritone role of Michonnet, a character rather oddly poised between buffo and grand opera eloquence, is often cast with older character singers. It was refreshing to find it so well served here by Ambrogio Maestri, a performer still at the height of his powers, whose comedic timing is equaled by his vocal heft and verbal clarity. (A native speaker, Maestri gave us by far the clearest Italian of the evening.)

In this august company, tenor Piotr Beczała offered an honorably sung but not terribly individual Maurizio. He easily met the role’s vocal demands, but without much Mediterranean warmth or charm. (Recent excursions into the German repertoire, notably as Lohengrin, seem to suit him better.) The supporting cast was universally strong, particularly Carlo Bossi (the Abbé) and Maurizio Muraro (the Prince of Bouillon).

Presiding over this fine, cohesive performance was conductor Gianandrea Noseda, who consistently shaped the Verismo line with sensitivity and brought out some ideally delicate, shimmering playing from the fine Met orchestra.

In all, a strong evening of a high standard at the Met, and a deserved triumph for Rachvelishvili and Netrebko in particular.

Cast & Creative
Anna Netrebko (Adriana)
Piotr Beczała (Maurizio)
Anita Rachvelishvili (Princess of Bouillon)
Ambrogio Maestri (Michonnet)
Carlo Bossi (Abbé)
Maurizio Muraro (Prince of Bouillon)
Patrick Carfizzi (Quinault)
Sarah Joy Miller (Mlle. Jouvenot)
Tony Stevenson (Poisson)
Samantha Hankey (Mlls. Dangeville)
Christian Rozakis (Major-Domo)

Gianandrea Noseda (dm)
Sir David McVicar (m/s)
Charles Edwards (d)Brigitte Reiffenstuehl (r)
Adam Silverman (l)

Categories: Music, New York

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