La Cenerentola, Metropolitan Opera, Metopera live cinema relay, 10 May 2014Posted on 11 May 2014
For those who tend to go to first nights, an advantage of these Met cinema screenings is the welcome unity they provide between conductor and singers who have already performed on stage several times together. Under the baton of Fabio Luisi the singers were very much at one with the orchestra, providing Rossini’s music with the changes of tempo that lead so well to moments of heightened drama and sheer fun.
That wonderful sextet (Siete voi…) towards the end of Act II was a fine example, starting slowly and methodically yet building up tension and tempo as it develops. And at this point in Cesari Lievi’s fine production — stylised, but with a glorious sense of spontaneity — the Prince wraps the other five up with golden tape. It was just one more example of the excellent stage movement that the singers performed with such seeming naturalness, and in his earlier aria from the second Act (Si, ritrovarla io giuro), when the Prince swears to find his beloved Angelina again, Juan Diego Flórez moved — even danced — with huge musicality.
Musicality of movement was also one of the hallmarks of Alessandro Corbelli’s portrayal of the ridiculous Don Magnifico, combining a pinched narcissism with grandiloquent posturing and daydreaming. Wonderful stuff, so convincingly earnest, and the fast-paced patter, which in the interval feature Pietro Spagnoli compared to American rap, was brilliantly performed. Spagnoli himself was an excellent Dandini, his commanding voice and magnificent stage presence as he flaunts himself in the role of the Prince, being just the ticket for the awful Magnifico, who has squandered Cinderella’s inheritance on his fatuous daughters.
Those daughters, brash and brassy in this production, were very wittily performed by Rachelle Durkin and Patricia Risley, and that business of falling off the couch, unbalanced by its one missing foot, might be pure slapstick, but it was of a part with their careless lack of decorum. They were a hoot.
By contrast, Luca Pisaroni’s gentle bass voice invested Alidoro, wise philosopher and tutor to the Prince, with a calm sobriety and he even appears with angel wings to overcome Angelina’s fears and insecurities. She, the inimitable Joyce DiDonato, gave Cinderella a sense of wonderment and ethereal beauty matched by the purity and accuracy of her coloratura. It was a great portrayal, though sadly she said in an interval feature that she has decided not to repeat this role.
Altogether a wonderful performance under Fabio Luisi with superb ensemble singing, and I loved the stylised production with its chorus in bowler hats (derbies in America) like a row of Oddjobs from the movie Goldfinger. Fine interviewing during the intermission by Deborah Voigt, and excellent camera work by Barbara Willis Sweete.
The Met’s magical formula for sending opera to cinema screens around the world is aided by their immaculate casting. It doesn’t get any better than this.