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  Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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Italian operatic classics have become what the Bolshoi most excels in
Italian operatic classics have become what the Bolshoi most excels in. Its productions of the several previous years prove this point to varying extents, be it Francesco Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur", Puccini's "Turandot" or Verdi's "Macbeth". So, "Falstaff", another of Verdi's masterpieces, had every chance to make a sensation. As the first night has shown, however, even the best performing and production prescriptions are no earnest of success, however meticulously one may be following them, the Moscow-based newspaper Vedomosti remarks in a review. The Bolshoi has rented from La Scala a 1980 production by renowned Giorgio Streler, complete with Enzo Frigerio's scenery. An Italian crew was responsible for the entire production routine, lighting effects included. Franco Pagliazzi led singing rehearsals, as he has been doing at the Bolshoi for quite some time now. The excellent Giorgio Streler had made his "Falstaff" a daring experiment to translate Shakespeare's comedy into the idiom of the commedia del'arte, in a setting of Italian landscapes tinged with the German Romanticism of the woodlands. Despite all expectations, the Bolshoi revival came out dry as dust. The company had spared no efforts to preserve the geometrical precision of Streler's mise-en-scenes, and balance out music and action. It proved too subtle a task, however, to re-create the later Verdi's brilliance and clarity, and spice it with Latin sensuality. Young tenor Andrei Dunayev, as lovelorn Fenton, was the only one on the cast to offer irreproachable singing. Even Yuri Nechayev was a failure in the name part. Alexander Vedernikov proved, this time, a less flexible conductor than he always is, and was not up to his forte-smooth orchestral polyphony. Conceived as formal quest, the Bolshoi endeavor failed enthusiastic expectations in form and content alike.
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