jueves, 1 de octubre de 2009

L'italiana in Algeri - The Dallas Opera

Foto: Manuela Custer (Isabella), Paolo Pecchioli (Mustafa)
Credito: Karen Almond / The Dallas Opera


Ramón Jacques

La Opera de Dallas programó este drama gioccoso porque fue la primera opera que presentó en 1957, cuando fue fundada, y es la ultima que se montará en el mítico Music Hall de Fair Park, ya que para el inicio de la próxima temporada se inaugurará un nuevo teatro, el Windspear Opera House. El teatro de Fair Park fue conocido en algún momento como “Scala West” ya que por ahí pasaron muchos cantantes importantes como: María Callas, Giulietta Simionato, Alfredo Kraus, José Carreras, Victoria de los Ángeles, Montserrat Caballé, Magda Olivero, Renata Scotto, Joan Sutherland, y Franco Zeffirelli. Incluso, Placido Domingo, tuvo su debut estadounidense en este teatro a los 19 años de edad. Para esta función, la opera se montó con una sencilla, colorida y funcional realización que fue firmada por Robert Innes Hopkins, y en cuya bien lograda escena inicial, en la que la italiana hace su entrada en un aeroplano antiguo y con vestuario de aviadora, fue inspirada seguramente, en el cuento del Principito de Saint-Exupéry. La dirección escénica, Chris Alexander, tuvo momentos gratos y divertidos, aunque por momentos incurrió de cargada e innecesaria jocosidad. Como Isabella, se presentó la mezzosoprano italiana Manuela Custer, quien actúo de manera esplendida, dominando el papel con gracia, elegancia y refinada expresividad. Vocalmente tuvo un desempeño impecable, porque conoce el estilo, posee una amplia gama de ricos colores en su timbre, que es muy homogéneo, y desplegó una flexibilidad y una presteza ejemplares en el manejo de su voz. El bajo italiano Paolo Pecchioli, se caracterizó por ser un divertido y ameno Mustafa, con voz de penetrante tonalidad oscura, muy lírica, ágil y de elegante fraseo. El tenor William Burden, mostró su atractivo timbre como Lindoro, pero encontró dificultades para sacar adelante la exigente aria. El resto del elenco y el coro, cumplieron de manera adecuadamente. En el foso, Graeme Jenkins inició una lectura lenta, pero con el trascurso de los minutos encontró y mantuvo el justo orden musical, con balance y dinámica.

ENGLISH VERSION
Founded in 1957, The Dallas Opera has become one of the most important and prestigious opera houses in the USA. Its history began on an evening night in late November 1957, when the company offered a staged performance of Rossini’s, L’Italiana in Algeri, featuring the extraordinary mezzo soprano Giulietta Simionatto, who sang the lead role. On that same evening, a then unknown, young Italian stage director by the name of Franco Zeffirelli, made his American debut. During a history that spans more than 52 years, the company welcomed many famous and remarkable singers, who set foot on the stage of the mythic Music Hall at Fair Park, a venue once known as “Scala West” The astonishing list of casts includes the names of: Maria Callas, Jan Vickers, Alfredo Kraus, José Carreras, Renata Scotto, Victoria de los Ángeles, Montserrat Caballé, Gwyneth Jones, Waltraud Meier, Renee Fleming, Ruth Ann Swenson, Cecilia Bartoli, among many others.
In 1961, during a performance of Lucia di Lammermoor by Donizetti, two unheard of singers made their American debuts with the company; the first of them was an Australian soprano by the name of Joan Sutherland, who sang the title role, and the second one was a nineteen year old tenor, who hailed from Mexico City and sang the brief role of Arturo, named Placido Domingo.
Next season, the company will move to a new and modern facility, the Winspear Opera House, and it will be opened with a new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello. The inaugural performance will take place on the night of October 23, 2009. As a way of closing its 2008-2009 season, and also as a way of bidding farewell to the their home of 52 years, the Music Hall at Fair Park, the company decided to stage again Rossini’s L’Italiana in Algeri. The opera was staged in a production originally built for the Santa Fe Opera, and created by designer Robert Innes Hopkins. The staging is simple, colorful and functional and it is set inside Mustafa’s palace. It was set in an indefinite time, probably closer to the early years of the twentieth century. The lighting effects and the modern and colorful outfits also played an important role in making the action on stage more attractive to the eye of the public. The best scene occurs in the early stages of the first act when Isabella arrives on a plane to Algiers, dressed as an aviator, in a scene that appears to have taken its inspiration from Antoine de Saint Saint-Exupéry’s famous novel “The Little Prince”. Stage director, Chris Alexander, exploited the comedy and candor derived from the story with funny occurrences, however, as the show progressed he made the artists incur in extreme situations of unnecessary and superfluous mockery and humor. In the pit, English conductor Grame Jenkins offered a witty and enthusiastic reading of Rossini’s cheerful score. His tempos were a bit slower and unsynchronized in the first few minutes of the performance, but as the show developed he managed to acquire and maintain an accurate and dynamical musical balance between the voices and the instruments of the orchestra.
The role of Isabella was entrusted to Italian mezzo-soprano Manuela Custer, who artistically dominated the role with elegance, beauty, expressivity and refinement. Manuela, an expert in the belcanto stlyle, demonstrated how her vocal qualities adhere completely to the style. Vocally, she displayed an impeccable line of signing, with a pleasing and refreshing timbre that contains an ample range of rich colors. The sound of her voice was homogeneous, and her skill and agility to handle the coloratura passages was noteworthy. Italian bass Paolo Pecchioli, outlined a funny and enjoyable, yet arrogant Mustafa. The sound of his resounding dark voice was incisive and sharp. His phrasing was elegant and his harmonic sound emission was abundant. The role of Lindoro, was sung by American tenor William Burden, who exhibited an attractive and luminous timbre and resonance, but unfortunately was not able to meet successfully the taxing demands of the aria languir per una bella The rest of the singers in the cast, and the chorus, fulfilled with dignity and poise their assigned roles.

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