Monday, October 02, 2006

Closing night of La Clemenza di Tito in Paris; Elina Garanca and Anna Caterina Antonacci triumph

More later.

UPDATE (10/3/06, 1:52am):

I know some people don't like this opera. I wasn't very fond of it when I saw the Ponnelle production at the Met in May 2005. But after tonight's performance, I can't help but love this opera, especially when it's played with such beauty and conviction.

This Herrman production at the Palais Garnier is quite different from the sepia Met production. The stage is so bright that each patron who buys a program is given a libretto whose cover reads (I translate): "The brightness of this production's scenery diminishes the legibility of the surtitles. For this reason, the Paris Opera offers you the entire French translation of the libretto of La Clemenza di Tito." From where I was sitting (a wonderful seat), I was still able to read the titles, though it was quite a strain on my eyes. Since the house lights were switched off, it wasn't really possible to read along with the libretto (and it was difficult to find your spot anyway, since the translation in the booklet was different from the translation on the surtitles).

At any rate, one of the highlights of this production: Vitellia's gorgeous costumes. What a joy to see Anna Caterina Antonacci, a major star in Europe who is unknown in the US. A beautiful woman, she has a powerful stage presence, and her equally powerful voice, though at times almost strident, can be downright thrilling. Her Vitellia was a convincing seductress, a cruel beauty who has no qualms about sacrificing Sesto's life for her own gain. We pity her when she reveals her treachery to Tito. We know how humiliated she must feel, but we also know that she has been cleansed of her evil by the constancy of Sesto. And Tito's clemency is a beautiful thing. It's karma!

Beautiful, youthful, and endowed with a golden voice, even more impressive tonight was Elina Garanca as Sesto. Radiant tone, flawless coloratura. And she actually looks and sounds like a beautiful youth. She got the loudest ovations of the night.

Ekaterina Garanca as Servilia and Hannah Esther Minutillo as Annio also gave lovely performances.

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