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Review

The Opera Critic: Cav & Pag returns showcasing Elina Garanča as Santuzza

Full-blooded and lavish, Marina Rebeka’s Nedda (her first portrayal Worldwide) found just the right note in juxtaposing her dealings with the other leads, while vocally displaying freshly-hewn metal in her timbre to possibly hint at untried territory in her future repertoire.

Cav & Pag returns showcasing Elina Garanča as Santuzza

 

March 23, 2019
Moore Parker

 

Elina Garanča’s first Vienna Santuzza was the undoubted draw in this double-bill revival of Jean-Pierre Ponnelle’s 1985 production, which has been tucked away in storage for the past five seasons.  

Garanča, who – incidentally – debuted at the State Opera in the same production as Lola back in 2003, brought pristine class and a defined reading which ennobled the work’s female lead – if not quite fulfilling its vocal demands. Her demeanour and intense dramatic focus convince throughout – while vocally, her rich and even-scaled mezzo underscores the sympathetic figure of her creation. At best in her scenes with Mamma Lucia and Alfio, Garanča does, however, lack the variety of colour and Italianate “bite” (particularly in her mid-range) to make her an ideal all-encompassing candidate for the part.  

As Turiddu, Yonghoon Lee combined an appealing physique with a vibrant tone which is capable of both fine lyricism and robust veristic outbursts (albeit expending vocal “capital” rather than just “interest”), with his final scene and aria bringing his most authentic and affecting moments. While full marks must be given for Lee’s unstinted efforts throughout, this reading somehow yet remains on the drawing board – both in play and in individual vocal nuance.  

Paolo Rumetz’ solidly-mature Alfio embodied an ominously-surly confidence which was well offset by Svetlana Stoyanova’s slinky and rather understated Lola.  

As Mamma Lucia, Zoryana Kushpler found a touchingly-effective balance between the character’s moral dilemma and a covert empathy with Santuzza’s predicament.  

In this half of the evening, the State Opera chorus initially seemed sluggish and behind the beat, but eventually rose to customary heights for the grand Easter Hymn.  

The evening’s second bill, Pagliacci, brought a compact and intense revival with a well-balanced line-up in the leads.  

George Petean’s well-considered Tonio was arguably the most finely-tuned figure – cleverly scaled, technically impeccable, and (despite the character’s nature) a sympathy winner at the end of the day.  

Full-blooded and lavish, Marina Rebeka’s Nedda (her first portrayal Worldwide) found just the right note in juxtaposing her dealings with the other leads, while vocally displaying freshly-hewn metal in her timbre to possibly hint at untried territory in her future repertoire.  

Fabio Sartori brings adequate Italianate substance to drive through Canio’s lines with ease – but somehow failed to captivate emotionally and, as a result, left an impression which remained a touch bland and disappointing.  

In contrast, Jörg Schneider’s Beppo was wonderfully colourful, slickly-timed, and sung with generous timbre and style.  

Ensemble member, Orhan Yıldız seemed a touch out of his depth on this occasion – slightly awkward in deportment, and ill-focused in Silvio’s upper range.  

In the pit, Graeme Jenkins’s reading brought a compelling balance of finely-tuned lyricism and full-blooded drama – generous in his expansive tempi and dynamics, if, on occasions, driving his cast to their limits.  

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