Saturday, October 05, 2013

Eugene Onegin - Robert White - Opera L


Life was so busy this week I never got a chance to write about my
experience on Tuesday with an opera (not just Onegin) first-timer.  I'm
primarily going to talk about today's performance in HD as seen at the
Showplace  Theatres Secaucus, almost on Route 3.  The attendance was in
excess of 160-- a theatre manager told me afterwards.  By my ear trumpet, I
would say the audience was at least 30% Russian, with some health Polish
attendance rooting for both Beczala and Kwiecien.  As much as the sound in
the Met on Tuesday night was not to be matched except in theatres 1/4 to
1/2 the size, and sometimes not even then, the close-ups Gary Halvorson
chose today were spectacular.  We had very good Grand Tier Box front, but
nothing prepared me for the shot selection today.  I am not a great fan of
the Carsen production-- it's ok, but it's been enshrined in the
Hvorostovsky/ Fleming performance (also under Gergiev, but filmed by Brian
Large).  The opera got better act by act, and if there were a few longeurs
in the first Act,

The ensemble work of two veteran mezzos-- Larissa Diadkova as Filippyevna
and Elena Zaremba as Madame Larina   seemed even more delicious in
close-up.  Volkova was not an Olga to my taste, and while Zaremba was a
little long in the tooth  for HER Olga with Fleming et al, she clearly
knows the work from multiple perspectives.  The blot on the afternoon was
the vocal desolation of the Gremin, Alexei Tanovitski.  He plays the part
much younger than normal (I don't like), and Sergei Aleksashkin with
Fleming was no prize vocally either.  It's a gorgeous aria, but we need
something better than what passes for Russian basses these days.  The
remaining three principals all had something to offer.  Kwiecien is not the
singer that Mazurok or Hvorostovsky are, but he definitely has an approach
to the character and he works very well with both Netrebko and Beczala.
Beczala got the biggest hand, and he's the best Lenski I've ever seen.  He
had some interesting intermission comments on doing a "realistic" Rusalka
for the first time.  Netrebko was very fine, and had lots of nice touches
all along the way.  She really came into her own in the final act with
strong singing and characterization and real squillo on the money notes.
The Shaw/Warner effort was I thought very solid and did not feature typical
stock movements.  I liked the settings for both the second and third acts,
but the first act i would call serviceable.

Tuesday evening's performance in the house was packed to the gills and the
wonderful choral contributions can be much more readily appreciated
compared to any movie sound system.  I'm still scheduled for  a second run
with special attention to Mattei and Villazon.  Again I think Kocan is too
young for the part, but compared to his recent predecessors, he is like
Kipnis.  Average age in Secaucus about 75, but all had beaming smiles on
exit.  Last act really got to them.

I think in HD home or Blu-Ray, the dark screen will show even greater
contrasts.  Next up for the movies-- The Nose on Oct 26, three weeks from


Robert W. White
Executive Director
Bergen County Cooperative Library System (BCCLS)

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