Not the most involving of productions but beautifully performed
Lucrezia Borgia is not one of Donizetti's better operas but it is still very compelling musically. My main reason for seeing this Munich production was Edita Gruberova who I've always liked. I was a bit dubious though, considering it was Christof Loy, known for letting his ideas run away with him at the expense of any kind of coherence. Actually I found this production to be quite good. The production values are stark and minimalistic, looking as though they cost about under £10 to construct, and while this is an example of a Loy production that actually makes sense and doesn't have too much going on the use of chairs and not much else doesn't make the drama very involving always. The costumes are a mixed bag, Lucrezia's are fine actually but the men look like they came out of Pulp Fiction and the ruffians very garish-and-random-costume-magazine sort of style. Bertrand DeBilly's conducting is very musical and accommodating with attention to textures and phrasing but at the same time in terms of tempos and dramatic intensity it's also rather routine.
The orchestral playing however is stylish and beautiful to listen to, and the chorus blend very well and make some effort to be involved. Edita Gruberova is not at her best here vocally with some notes like her final high note rather shrill, but her long lines, stunning pianissimo singing, strong colouratura technique and beautifully-placed tone are very striking. Her acting is both intense and subtle, in short I don't there are many colouratura sopranos who can perform this well like Gruberova did at 63. Pavol Breslik has a wonderful voice with ringing tone and fluid line, and he is also a fine actor. Alice Coote matches him with her usual firm and rich mezzo soprano voice and commanding acting. Their duet was very tender and one of the highlights dramatically of the production. Franco Vasallo has a fine rounded bass voice with very secure top notes. He acts agreeably as well, if not quite nasty enough for Alfonso(that is if you were comparing it to someone in the role like Stafford Dean or Michele Pertusi). In conclusion, beautifully played and sung, helps to elevate an at least coherent but rather drab and not always involving production. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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