Sunday, October 24, 2010

Talking about Verdi...

Requiem, Théâtre du Châtelet - Paris, October 22, 2010

Brauer, Zeppenfeld, Gatti, Meli, Gubanova, Stoyanova

Daniele Gatti ..... conductor
Matthias Brauer ... chorus dir

Krassimira Stoyanova ..... Soprano
Ekaterina Gubanova ..... Mezzo-soprano
Stuart Neill Francesco Meli ... Tenor
Georg Zeppenfeld ..... Bass

Orchestre National de France
Chorus of Radio France

Here is yet another example of Verdi that I don't particularly like a priori, but if & when it's well performed I get regularly hooked up.

An extra trouble in conducting Verdi's Requiem is that one really needs to tailor the sound not only to have all the ingredients well discernible and combined in unison, but also to have every bit fitting well the auditorium -- its size and its acoustics. The trouble with this performance came with too loud percussionists. It started in Dies Irae when they bombed both chorus and the orchestra [instead of providing emphasis to their performance] and that aggression continued throughout the concert [which, I believe, is Gatti's fault.]

If you try and factor that problem out then you could say the concert was fantastic.

I am the first to say that Orchestre National de France  gained in character since Daniele Gatti took the position of its artistic director. I think, right now, they are the best Symphonic orchestra in France. Even better, they keep improving! The chorus deserves its share of praise too. They were really good, with particularly well balanced piani which weaved through orchestra in Pie Jesu and Agnus Dei.

At the entrance we were given a small leaflet informing us that Stuart Neill had to cancel his performance due to illness and that Francesco Meli would step in and sing the tenor part. I wish all the best and quick recovery to Stuart, but Francesco is one of my fave singers and I guess I should be ashamed that I was happy with the change. Francesco sang at his usual best. If you want to listen to a traditionally sound Italian tenor then listen to Francesco's singing live. All the top notes are nailed directly, the voice is robust yet luminous and whatever he sings sounds do naturally Italian. Georg Zeppenfeld's dark timbre was complementary to Meli's. His voice brought in the needed solemnity.

Georg Zeppenfeld, Daniele Gatti, and Francesco Meli

Ekaterina Gubanova is one of my very fave singers. I love that infinite breath she takes to produce the strong velvety sounding mezzo, perfectly audible in all the gravi and yet superbly at ease in reaching the top notes. Brava Katya!
For the soprano part Daniele Gatti invited Krassimira Stoyanova whom I've never listened to singing live before. I think 'classy' is the appropriate word to describe her singing. It's not only the beauty and homogeneity of her voice, it's the easiness with which she sings everything and her sense for melody that never cross the "too much"-border that we so often see crossed by the bel-canto/Verdi specialists. Respect!

Ekaterina Gubanova and Krassimira Stoyanova

In summary, a very enjoyable evening at always beautiful Théâtre du Châtelet.


  1. Ah! Even more regret now that Meli had a cold when I heard him sing the Duca di Mantova last month. Good to have a report of his characteristics "on form."

  2. I saw Georg Zeppenfeld singing Sparafucile and Landgraf at Semperoper in 2008.He has a fantastic voice and a wonderful legato that reminds me glorious Nicolai Ghiaurov.Last season he made his debuts at the Met(Sarastro) and at La Scala(Commendatore and Landgraf).I`m giving you a link of Dresden Verdi Requiem.

  3. Sorry Lucy you didn't see Meli at his best. He was absolutely great as Alfredo in La Traviata in Turin. Also as Fenton in Falstaff in Paris (even is the role is short) he was fantastic.

    Thx for the link Dandini! Ghiaurov - that's a good comparison to describe the quality and timbre of Georg's voice.