Of course, Beverly Sills did it across the plaza at NYC Opera (when it was still across the plaza), as part of what Julius Rudel called her "Donizetti Ring," to acclaim and popularity back in the '70s; it is also one of the works that reputedly sped the decline of her voice. While this version fits DiDonato, a mezzo, one misses the excitement of the high notes a soprano brings to the role. If you want to know what I mean, listen to Sutherland in her prime in her debut in the role at the San Francisco Opera or Sills from NYCO in 1972.
There's a dearth of tenors who could step into the role of Leicester on short notice, since it's not exactly a repertoire staple, but Salvatore Cordella's unexpected house debut gave greater appreciation for the artistry of Matthew Polenzani, the Met's young-old reliable in bel-canto roles who was out ill on Jan 4. (Cordella covered Edgardo in Lucia during the Met's post-earthquake Japan tour, when performers were dropping out over radiation fears.) . The libretto, which was greatly revised because of political problems in 19th century Italy, was clearly just part of the problem. He did a decent enough job, except for some intonation problems that came and went throughout the evening, but his performance left me wondering why the queens both had eyes for him
The rest of the cast was in fine shape, with bass Matthew Rose in wonderful voice as Giorgio, the Earl of Shrewsbury, who is loyal to Mary; baritone Joshua Hopkins as Guglielmo, who is the ultimate political insider while remaining sympathetic; and mezzo Maria Zifchak, as the touching and big-voiced Anna, Mary's lady-in-waiting, who escorts her to the gallows.
As usual, the Met orchestra sounded very good, this time under the baton of maestro Maurizio Benini, who kept the opera moving briskly toward its tumultuous, tragic ending.
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. |