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Architectural splendour but what else?
on 1 October 2007
With copious amounts of material swirling around in this over busy production, it is hard at times to concentrate on the performances. With cloaks flourished and hats put on and taken off ad-nauseum the two main performers Allen and Desdiri occasionally suffer from shortage of breath and at times you feel like screaming "please just stand still".
Thomas Allen is a singer I greatly admire - however on this night he just doesn't seem vocally up to the challenge, his aria `Fin ch'han dal vino' Is taken so fast by Muti that he is breathless and seems unable to cope, by the end of the opera he is evidently flagging. I don't want to be too unkind as all singers have off nights and the audience at La Scala obviously loved him and who am I to argue with them. A quick mention for Francisco Ariza - a wonderful singer whose voice here sounds tired but still melodious with hints of the beauty of his vocal youth.
Of the women Edita Gruberova, as you would expect, gives the overall polished performance, her pure voice ringing out like a bell with never a hint of a screech. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Ann Murray whose top notes are squally and jarr the ear, however her lower register is still lovely and she is a very good actress, able to communicate her anguish, her aria `Mi tradi quell'alma ingrata `is very touching.
The set itself is of highly polished architectural splendour and so in keeping with the period of the opera as indeed are the costumes, not exaggerated or over sumptuous and all the better for that.
This is a fairly enjoyable evenings viewing but I was left feeling slightly cheated and wanting to strangle the stage director.