A shame really because here we are talking about one of Tchaikovsky's greatest works and one of the masterworks of Russian opera. You always want to see a production of such a great opera work well and sadly while it has its good points it didn't work entirely for me. It is splendid musically and helped by the excellent sound. The orchestral playing shows a lot of beautiful tone and a great deal of depth, while the conducting allows the beauty of the score to come through while not compromising the singers or the viewers' patience. Of the performances, the best was the Ghermann of Vladimir Galouzine in a role that he was made for, he has such a magnetic charisma about him and his voice is well-preserved without showing signs of fatigue. That's amazing for somebody who is on stage for almost all the duration(around the three hour mark) and what he has to sing is heavy stuff, especially the final scene which is the production's highlight. Hasmik Papian has a beautiful voice and is very dignified as Lisa, while Irina Bogatcheva's Countess is haunting if not exactly ambiguous as one would want with a fine voice. Christianne Stotijn's Polina is beautifully sung and acted with a warm stage presence.
Nikolai Putilin occasionally adopts that scooping habit but makes for an elegant and commanding Tomsky. Ludovic Tezier has a lovely if somewhat lightweight voice with supple phrasing and a handsome stature as Yeletsky but it is not a particularly an idiomatic performance with his vowels not dark or closed enough. I can understand though as Russian is a very difficult language to sing or speak in, certainly the hardest language I'm learning at the moment as part of my opera/music course at university.
Sadly these fine performers and orchestra are let down by how the production looks, which lacks any of the heart and charm of the opera. Anyone who is expecting a sumptuous and traditional production in the style of the a production of Eugene Onegin, with lots of colour and beauty, will be disappointed. The costumes and sets are incredibly dreary and stark, and the staging is static, weird and at odds with the libretto. Dance of the Shepherds and Shepherdesses is all over the place. And instead of Ghermann descending into madness, the production has him like that throughout, which misses the point of the character and story and makes him far less interesting as a result. I constantly felt as though I was watching a badly done production of Wozzeck, which is the complete opposite to what it should be like. The use of stock gambling footage was potentially interesting, the intent was for a more cinematic approach, but came across as incredibly awkward instead and added absolutely nothing to what was going on.
All in all, musically splendid but disappointingly puzzling. 6/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?