Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Daltrius ascends to a higher plane in Seattle Opera’s Il Trovatore

Photo by Rozarii Lynch

A strong cast of singers made sure that Seattle Opera’s presentation of “Il Trovatore” on opening night (Saturday, January 16) would ooze with melodrama and memorable tunes. Led by soprano Lisa Daltirus, who gave a performance of a lifetime, the principals conquered the challenges of Verdi’s music even though the tempos were on the slow side.

Daltrius, in the role of Lenora, sang with the utmost passion and delivered a totally convincing portrait of a young woman who gives up her life to save her lover. Daltrius hit every high note gorgeously and had power to spare. She also had plenty of volume and veracity with the low notes that Verdi threw in her way. Her acting was palpable, especially in the final scene when she had poisoned herself.

As Manrico, the rebel commander and Lenora’s lover, tenor Antonello Palombi filled the hall with his resonant voice. All of Palombi’s arias were stunning, except the “Di quella pira,” which had vigor but needed more voltage.

Mezzo-soprano Malgorzata Walewska embraced the wickedly complex character of the gypsy Azucena with gusto. Although her upper range started out a bit on the brittle side, Walewska scaled the wild vocal demands, and swept the audience into the gypsy’s dark mindset.

Gordon Hawkins, whose baritone raged with emotion, created an imposing, love-sick, and vengeful Count di Luna. Yet, Hawkins sang the beautiful aria, “Il balen del suo sorriso,” so slowly that it lost some of its luster.

Arthur Woodley cut a demonstrative Ferrando, a captain in Count di Luna’s army. Again, the slow pace of his ballad “Di du figli” in the first scene reduced its dramatic content.

In lesser roles, Vira Slywotzky as Inez and Leodigario del Rosario as Ruiz sang and acted superbly. The chorus sang robustly as gypsies and soldiers, while actors and dancers portrayed a grim life: in the gypsy camp, kids staged mock battles and in the solder’s camp, blindfolded prisoners were abused.

The orchestra, under the baton of guest conductor Yves Abel, stressed the lyrical side of the music over the bombastic, and the tempos, as noted previously, were mostly slow.

The scenery, provided by Minnesota Opera, placed the opera firmly in the realm of melodrama of the days of yore. An enormous, guilded frame provided a border for the action, which took place on a raked stage. Tilting and slanting castle walls suggested a sense of impending doom. The story was further enhanced by traditional costumes, made by Seattle Opera.

Those who find “Il Trovatore’s” story line too ridiculous should count how many over-the-top Hollywood chase scenes they have seen. They could stand to hear the memorable music of this “Il Trovatore. The production runs through January 30th.

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