Being from the stand-up-and-sing school of opera singing, tenor Marco Berti did just that. He had the Italianate sound, the notes and the power for Manrico, which is a rarity these days, particularly at a house the size of the Met. I could have wished for a little more finesse in his performance--more legato between the attacks--but I'm happy to settle for the security of his delivery. He tossed off "Di quella pira" with aplomb, thought it would have been better if he could have bounded off stage instead of getting caught up in a traffic jam of choristers in front of him.
All things considered, I'd rather hear Verdi sung by baritone Alexey Markov than by his countryman Dmitri Hvorostovsky, who seems less comfortable in this repertoire, judging by his recent "Ballo in Maschera." Markov's emotional "Il balen del suo sorriso" was a model of elegant singing and performance. I look forward to hearing him again.
The last of the opera's major roles is the gypsy woman, Azucena. Russian mezzo Elena Manistina, who made her house debut the previous week substituting for Stephanie Blythe, was back again for the Met's last "Trovatore" of the season. In an opera filled with ludicrous action, hers takes the cake, but she didn't let madness overwhelm her portrayal of a figure whose life has been ruled by revenge: for a mother who was burned at the stake and for the baby she herself has accidentally thrown on a pyre. She made a good impression in "Stride la vampa" and "Ai nostri monti," with strong delivery in her mid-range and above; her low notes didn't strike and terror in my heart, though.
Daniele Callegari and the ever-reliable Met Orchestra propelled the performance forward nicely toward its horrifying conclusion, with the help of the Met's indispensable chorus.
In short, it was a worthy performance--no small accomplishment at the tail end of the opera's run for the season.
Richard Sasanow is a long-time writer on art, music, food, travel and international business for publications including The New York Times, The Guardian (UK), Town & Country and Travel & Leisure, among many others. He also interviewed some of the great singers of the 20th century for the programs at the San Francisco Opera and San Diego Opera and worked on US tours of the Orchestre National de France and Vienna State Opera, conducted by Lorin Maazel, Zubin Mehta and Leonard Bernstein. |