A wonderful production of Bellini's Bel Canto masterpiece
I also highly recommend the 1976 Met production with Sutherland, Pavarotti, Milnes and Morris(on CD), which is simply a must for any fans of the opera or of these four singers. This is a wonderful production though, with contributions from Renee Fleming and the late great Beverly Sills that are very insightful and in Sills' case quite moving.
The costume and set design I cannot fault, they are very sumptuous and captured perfectly by some excellent video directing. Of the staging which is very efficient while never too cluttered, the highlight is easily where Anna Netrebko lies supine on the stage with her hair hanging into the orchestra pit.
The opera is a masterpiece. The story is an interesting one albeit a little flimsy, but the music is just outstanding with Qui La Voce, O Vieni Al Tempio and the duet between Riccardo and Giorgio some of Bellini's best work.
The performances are excellent. The orchestra and conducting are on top form, and the chorus perform more than adequately. Of the support cast, Maria Zifchak's Erichetta is outstanding. Eric Cutler is overall very good as Arturo with a lovely voice and decent acting. He performs his first aria very well, maybe the top notes lack radiance but how he sustains and hits them is very impressive.
John Relyea is a very impressive Giorgio, with a rich, warm baritone voice- even with a few gravelly moments- and his acting is benevolent and authoritative. Watching him and Netrebko together, you would think that she is lucky to have an uncle like him. Likewise with Franco Vassalo as Riccardo. There is one clumsily executed note at the end of his act 1 aria, however in the rest of the production he sings beautifully especially in the duet between him and Relyea.
Best of all is Netrebko who is just sensational. She has an appearance and acting ability that makes you warm to her very quickly and she is in fine voice with good grace and style to all the difficult ornamentations. Her Qui La Voce is great, but her shining moment is O Vieni Al Tempio which is deeply moving.
In conclusion, wonderful. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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