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There is one thing we don't mention...

8/10
Author: Gyran from Birmingham, England
13 August 2009

Franco Alfano is best known for his completion of Turandot. Most Puccini fans hate it but I have always admired it so I welcomed this chance to hear some Alfano in his own right. Cyrano de Bergerac stars the indefatigable Plácido Domingo as the eponymous nasally-challenged soldier and poet. Domingo gamely wears the required prosthetic nose and I was surprised that it did not affect his singing voice. Sondra Rodvanovsky is a rather matronly Roxane, the oblivious object of Cyrano's passion. Arturo Chacón-Cruz is the nice but dim Christian, the object of Roxane's affection.

This lavishly-staged production, from Valencia, closely follows Rostand's play. Alfano's librettist Henri Cain has managed admirably to retain the gist of the play while shaping it to a manageable 2-hours or so opera. I was reminded of Fawlty Towers' "Don't mention the Germans" by the scene in which Christian is warned, on joining the regiment that: "There is one thing we don't mention…" In the ensuing scene he finds himself repeatedly alluding to Cyrano's nose.

So far, I have not mentioned the music. For the first three scenes it struck me as adequate but not particularly musical. Things look up in scene four where Roxane gets her big aria. The final scene between the widowed Roxane and the dying Cyrano is truly moving. I had to wipe the tears from my eyes, as one should in any decent opera.

In summary, Alfano's opera is not a forgotten gem but it does make an effective evening's entertainment, musically, dramatically and visually.

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It's not everyday that we see Domingo with a prosthetic nose...

9/10
Author: TheLittleSongbird from United Kingdom
20 July 2011

The opera by Franco Alfano is one of those operas that I wasn't directly familiar with until very recently. And as an opera, when I finally did hear it, I really was quite taken with it.

The story is still charming, compelling and poignant, likewise with the characters, and while the music didn't entirely blow me away as a whole there are several sublime moments, particularly the final scene and Act 2 Scene 2.

This is an excellent production. The period setting is beautifully realised, with monumental sets and lavish costumes. The video directing is excellent too, the action is well staged and the orchestra and conductor bring out of the emotional crux of the score seamlessly.

The performances I can't fault either. The chorus are well balanced and pitched, and Arturo Chacon-Cruz is dashing as Christian. Sandra Radvanovsky is a spirited and mature Roxanne, and the wonderful Placido Domingo(with the inevitable prosthetic nose which doesn't affect his singing at all) is superb in the title role.

Overall, a most excellent production. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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