Sunday, November 13, 2011

Una Notte di Bel Canto: Théâtre des Champs Élysées Re-Opens

I Capuleti e i Montecchi (in concert), Théâtre des Champs Élysées, November 11 2011 [11/11/11]

Olga Peretyatko - Giulietta

Evelino Pidò ..... Conductor

Anna Caterina Antonacci ..... Romeo
Olga Peretyatko ..... Giulietta
Juan Francisco Gatell ..... Tebaldo
Carlo Cigni ..... Lorenzo
Giovanni Battista Parodi ..... Capellio

Orchestra et Chorus of the Opéra de Lyon

 Théâtre des Champs Élysées (TCE) started their 2011-2012 season with a delay that was necessary to finish the summer works of refurbishing the stage and the backstage space. This was also a demonstration to the classical musics lover how important is this house for the city. We missed TCE and were very happy to see it re-open in big style -- with Belini's Romeo and Juliet, a.k.a. I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

As you may have already noticed, I am not really a bel-canto fan, which does not mean I don't like it -- I do, I do. The yearly bel-canto opera-concert at TCE --offered to Paris by Opéra National de Lyon (ONL)-- is something I try not to miss. Every November the whole crew from Opéra National de Lyon [undoubtedly the best run opera house in France (Serge Dorny)] come to TCE and offers to Paris a delightful bel-canto present. Remember how I was raving about the Rossini's Otello a year ago?! [A year ago... sigh... it feels like yesterday! Time flies mercilessly!]

Friday night we were blessed to have the most wonderful Olga Peretyatko singing the role of Giulietta in which she demonstrated the very meaning of bel-canto. Olga already marvels the public across the continent with her Lucias, Adinas, a palette of the Rossini heroines that propelled her to the top of the bel-canto hierarchy today. This Giulietta, her role debut, was her way to win the Parisian public too. Her Italian is impeccable, her trills are terrific, her piani are wonderful and she effortlessly goes for a spinto when it's stylistically suitable. Her top notes are crystal clear and are all approached from above. Her medium will further gain in broadness with age, but the way she projects her voice and trills is truly remarkable. Added value to her beautiful singing is that her presence communicaa kindness and la joie de vivre that she radiates during and immediately after the concert. It is the kind of energy you get from Joyce DiDonato, or early Cecilia Bartoli. In the end, the full house exploded with "Brava!" to cheer  Olga the Bolshoya
Anna Caterina Antonacci - Romeo

Anna Caterina Antonacci is one of the Paris darling singers and her presence was obviously loudly Bravo-ed too. Although she was a bit hesitant in the first act, her Romeo was beautifully sung in the second act. She managed to make the public connect with the heart wrenching drama of her character. She lived every verse she sangs without ever leaning toward verismo, and in fact demonstrated that having all the notes is necessary but not a sufficient condition to sing this repertoire really good.

Juan Francisco Gatell (Tebaldo) and Anna Caterina Antonacci (Romeo)

This opera is of course all about Romeo and Giulietta, but Tebaldo too has its important moments. I read about the "new Argentine lyric tenor" but never had really a chance to listen to Juan Francisco Gatell  singing live. His voice is pleasant, not big but at ease with the top notes. Definitely good for an auditorium of the size of the one at Théâtre des Champs Elysées. One to follow...

Evelino Pido, Olga Peretyatko, and Carlo Cigni

A few years ago a big bel-canto moment at Opéra Bastille was the Robert Carsen production of I Capuletti e i Montechi with Anna Netrebko and Joyce DiDonato singing the two main roles. That was so huge a success that I thought any other singer trying to sing Romeo or Giulietta would have hard time with a fraction of bel-canto aficionados who would not hesitate to boo if a slightest detail wasn't done 'properly.'  But since Olga was this brilliant and Anna Caterina pulled the second act with such a brio - the evening was a big success for all the performers, including --obviously-- the chorus and orchestra of the Opéra National de Lyon, conducted by particularly attentive Evelino Pidò: only twice he was close to the edge of drowning the singers, but other than that this was very good indeed.

As every year, this concert was recorded by the France Musique Radio and it will be broadcast on Saturday, November 26 starting from 19:30 (cet) on this link.

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