Mittwoch, 1. Juli 2009

Anna's Traviata San Francisco 28th June 2009 - Review

On a very noisy and crowed day in San Francisco on the occasion of the "Gay
Pride Celebration" there was a gem of a La Traviata production taking place in
the War Memorial Opera House that was novel and breathtaking. During a
pre-concert lecture, it was stressed that in Verdi, the music is the
underpinning only to support the singer. Several selections from an old
production with Monserrat Cabale and Domingo were played to introduce the
audience to this early gem by Verdi. The lecturer pointed out how unique
Netrebko is in her ability to paint her voice to express the inner feelings and
mood of Violetta and how this changes throughout the opera. While the cast with
Dwayne Croft (Georgio Germont) was superb, Charles Castronova as Alfredo Germont
(improved as production progressed) and Donald Runnicles (last performance of
his tenure) was noble, the evening belonged to Ms. Netrebko. From the opening
moment of her arrival in a lavish 1920's style car, it was clear that she not
only ruled the stage, but loved every moment of this production. From the
opening scene dressed in a white sequined gown, followed by a black evening
dress at the gambling parlor to her final dying scene in negligee, she
epitomized elegance, grace, and astonishing beauty. Her voice has become fuller
with ample power in all octaves. She has incredible dynamic range from a
poignant whisper to full exclamatory willpower, with joy and angst. At times,
she had to hold back somewhat so as not to over sing Alfredo. The highlight of
the opera was her acting ability in being able to portray a dying courtesan who
does not want to leave her lover. Dying of consumption, she just became limp on
several occasions that were most believable. Her cough similar to La Boheme was
not only believable, but your heart skipped a beat with the rising tension. You
could hear a pin drop as you heard her dying moments collapsing on a couch to
the familiar high violin accompaniment. My only concerns that need to be
expressed were the amplification of the orchestra which was totally unnecessary,
but the incessant delivery of amplified violin section attributed to poor
microphone placement was obtrusive and annoying. At least on one occasion Mr.
Runnicles overpowered the singers in his zealous enthusiasm.

On one occasion Ms. Netrebko transposed a high note with little detraction.
She displayed ample power, coloratura bravura with a marvelous tone. Having
recently heard Natalie Dessay sing Sempre Libera at the Met Gala, one was
impressed by the legato nature of Netrebko's portray in contrast to Dessay's
intentional staccato, fragmented phrasing interpretation. Having also seen
photos of Rene Fleming in her current Violetta at the ROH, one can only marvel
at Netrebko's resilience, endurance and commitment to bel canto opera. She is
made for this type of role. From the moment of the curtain falling on the final
scene, you then witnessed the incredible transformation of Netrebko joyously
waving to the crowd with her signature smile and hand-waving to her kiss for the
conductor. Since this was San Francisco, a town near to her heart since had her
American debut in the War Memorial Opera house, it was a joyous reunion. There
were banners on street poles, tote bags declaring we love Anna to photos in the
cafeteria of her debut in Ruslan and Ludmila (Glinka).

Perhaps was the greatest surprise of the day was her autograph signing for
approximately 300 people. Anna came out with colorful beads used in New
Orleans in white Bermuda shorts and stiletto heels. Everyone was given the
opportunity to customize their autographs by filling out a note for Anna. She
sat there sipping Champagne with Balalaika music and a small Russian group
providing mood setting music for these accolades. My wife and I were
particularly struck, not only by her beauty, but graciousness in her
conversation. My wife Paula was so nervous she could not snap a photo and Anna
told her not to be nervous at all. Paula said that she hoped to see Villazón's
return (also acknowledged by Netrebko) and I told her how much I loved her
recording of I Capulets and Montecchi by Bellini. She agreed that this was the
most beautiful score. She was quite surprised to hear that we had traveled to
Abu Dhabi to hear her in concert with Elina Garanca and Erwin Schrott.
The mezzanine gift shop was mobbed in anticipation of the CD autograph signing following the performance. We met many wonderful people who enjoyed the performance and some can with nearly every CD and DVD for autographs. How Ms. Netrebko can sing her heart out, sign autographs, be a full time mother and travel the world defies understanding. She is clearly raising the bar as a model of modern day opera and has clearly expanded an ample
repertoire. Her career with many counterparts, e.g. Garanca, Villazon, Alagna,
Beczala, Castronova, Cutler and others seems to be a joyous tribute to a young
girl growing up in Krasnodar of modest means. This is truly the story of modern
day princess.

With warm regards,

Here are some photos:

For watching all the photos click here (Carlos' blog).

Many, many thanks to Howard for his very detailed and touching review and the great photos !

Here's the "Examiner's" latest review. Click here for reading the article (photos are posted, too)


Cardiff Traviata hat gesagt…

Great review!

Anonym hat gesagt…

Very interesting review and great photos.