Il Re Pastore is not one of my favourite Mozart operas, though it does feature one of his most beautiful solos L'Amero, Saro Costante. And this is a wonderful production, one of the best of the Mozart 22 series and almost on par with the 1989 Sylvia McNair/Jerry Hadley production. The costumes and sets are not your idea of a pastoral setting, it is very simply constructed with black and white curtains and almost marionette-co-ordinated. Those familiar with the opera may be disappointed by this, I actually thought that it was simplicity at its finest. Those not so familiar with Il Re Pastore will appreciate how much effort went into the musical side of the production.
The music is so beautiful and somewhat intimate in its atmosphere, that a simple setting really helped appreciate the opera all the more. The staging is never anything distracting or intrusive, not like the Commendatore scene in Don Giovanni or the whole of Ascanio in Alba and Die Entfuhrung Aus Dem Serail. Especially effective was that for L'Amero, Saro Costante, with Annette Dasch as Aminta singing it in front of a blue curtain with Sebastian Hamman, who plays the violin obbligato beautifully, silhouetted behind it, a beautiful and very moving effect. Se Tu Di Me Fai Dono is also done with just one prop, and I found that tasteful and again effective in its simplicity And musically the production is phenomenal. The orchestral playing is pecise and energetic and Thomas Hengelbrock's conducting- also responsible for the stage direction- shows musicality and respect to Mozart's score. The recitatives do have brio and do tell a story, so the production is not entirely sombre. The performances are wonderful. The only disappointment is Kresimir Spicer, whose voice is too throaty for my tastes and plays Alessandro as too keen and too childish. Andreas Karasiak fares much better, later on in the opera he is very understanding and sincere and he has a lovely voice.
Marlis Peterson is wonderfully noble and shows a great amount of lyricism and beauty of tone in her singing. Arpiné Rahdjian is one to watch, with a voice big enough to sing Wagner and Strauss in the future, yet shows flexibility as well. Her first aria is guaranteed to blow you away. She is very sexy and plays Tamiri as a hot-blooded, passionate woman, which makes her performance all the more compelling. Annette Dasch is not quite as good as the other two, but is still very good as Aminta. She sings beautifully in L'Amero, Saro Costante and shows a lot of team spirit with Peterson.
Overall, pure operatic magic that is superb musically and works in how simple it is. 9.5/10 Bethany Cox
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