La Sonnambula's story may be slight but the music is absolutely beautiful. This production may not be to everyone's tastes, however I personally found it a riot and imaginatively staged.
The production updates the opera to a modern setting-something that has been done with mixed results, this production is an example of this working, while the production of Don Carlos with Ramon Vargas is an example of one that doesn't-, with the set looking like a large upper story studio room with large windows and the story reading like a play within a play, however while I understand why people mayn't consider this change adding much to the opera, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of it.
Besides, the sets do look great and the costumes too. Natalie Dessay especially looks radiant and adorable. The take on the story is fresh, with many scenes managing to move me, but there is never not enough room for some touching moments too, as proved with Non Credea Mirati, where a tear can be seen glittering on Dessay's cheek.
Her feeling for nuance in the lines and the words is always sensitive. As Ms. Dessay sings this aria, her Amina blithely endures a costume fitting, which makes her expression of romantic bliss come across as insincere. I seem to be among a minority who find the timbre of Mr. But he certainly sings Elvino with abundant energy, stylish phrasing and ringing top notes.
He won a tumultuous ovation from the audience. Hanging over the production is the perception that no one seems to believe in this opera. Apparently, when first contracted to direct the opera, Zimmerman had planned on a traditional approach.
It was at the urging of Dessay, a gutsy performer who embraces challenging work and radical rethinkings, that Zimmerman moved away from mountains and dirndls. In a previous production I saw in Santa Fe, Dessay played Amina as a bookish, mentally unstable young woman, surrounded by Victorian grotesques. The plot was her feverish nightmare and the finale was staged not as a happy conclusion but as a terrified descent into waking madness.
Gerckens on lights, created a spacious unit set that was a deliberate invocation of the renowned New York rehearsal space at Broadway. The details were perfect, down to the stunningly realistic facade of the ABC Carpet building outside the windows. As the characters rehearsed the opera within the opera, they improvised with props, tried on different hats and wigs, awkwardly worked through complicated choreographic moves—all standard practice at any theatrical company.
The execution was by no means perfect. Zimmerman found it difficult to maintain a consistent tone and faltered on the thin line between affection and condescension. The temptation to stylize, to aestheticize and to patronize the work is strong, and the lesson of Callas and Serafin—that within the silly prettiness lies a darkly beating heart—is easy to forget.
The condescension left a bad taste in the mouth and fueled the mistaken notion that Zimmerman and Dessay felt contempt for the opera as opposed to certain styles of staging. Nevertheless, to my mind there was no question that, despite these isolated missteps, Zimmerman and her team were attempting a serious and respectful reading of the opera.
Most prominently, this production reveled in a Pirandellian examination of the relationship between an artist and his roles. The doubled layers incisively indicated how an actor can get lost in a role and how art can in some cases heal and in others destroy the artist.
Zimmerman and company also examined the changing notion of community, exploring the intriguing discontinuity between how the chorus is treated in the nineteenth-century text and in the twenty-first-century setting. All of those ideas gave my companions and me much to discuss following the performance.
For the simple fact that the production alternately engaged, frustrated, enlightened, and intrigued me, I felt I owed Zimmerman and her team applause and not contempt.
Why, then, the vitriolic response from the audience? But this Sonnambula was clearly not in any way a case of a cynical or lazy approach. The detail in the production alone, from design to blocking, was at a level virtually never seen at the Met. La Sonnambula is in many ways a difficult piece to love. Even the ravishing music does not always appeal to contemporary taste. The piece has almost no internal musical energy; in comparison, Lucia di Lammermoor, which was written only four years later, seems like a combustion engine.
Its very challenges make it all the more fragile and therefore all the more lovable to its partisans. But succumbing to the panic, a fear-based response, is all too easy. Updatings in general, while often finding marvelous parallels between the world of the text and the modern setting, will always trade in discontinuity to a certain extent. The fit will never be perfect.In the Met opera gift shop? Natalie Dessay is one of the few divas in recent years to attempt it - and even she, I fear, isn't quite up to its demands. Natalie Dessay especially looks radiant and adorable. Dessay was less happily cast as Amina. Distractions By now, of course, we have sadly understood Zimmerman's concept: This is going to be a play within a play.
But the intemperate and disturbingly violent response indicated something much more than dislike.
But in this production, who is the Count, exactly, and why wouldn't the modern-day Elvino know that his fiancee walks in her sleep? But acting is her calling card; when she is building character, adorable though she be, she scales back her singing, and it is simply less interesting. Now they're done all the time, in part because of the ascendancy of two sopranos -- Natalie Dessay and Anna Netrebko -- who are seen as ideal for this repertory. It was at the urging of Dessay, a gutsy performer who embraces challenging work and radical rethinkings, that Zimmerman moved away from mountains and dirndls. The worst opera staging can be redeemed by great singing, and in Florez, the Met can boast one of the world's most stylish tenors. The production updates the opera to a modern setting-something that has been done with mixed results, this production is an example of this working, while the production of Don Carlos with Ramon Vargas is an example of one that doesn't-, with the set looking like a large upper story studio room with large windows and the story reading like a play within a play, however while I understand why people mayn't consider this change adding much to the opera, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of it.
Of course they look ridiculous. There are wondrous qualities in her singing. Well and good. One reason not to do "Sonnambula" is that it's silly: Oh-so-innocent young girl loves boy, sleepwalks, is found sleeping in strange man's room, regains trust of lover. The audience, unsure of what was happening onstage, tittered nervously. She burst onto the scene in the s as a high-wire daredevil, hitting high Es and Fs with astounding ease and sailing through coloratura showcase roles like Olympia and Zerbinetta with carefree abandon and wonderful humor.
Where is her bed?
That said, I loved her here as Amina, she is always such fun to watch, she looks adorable and the colouratura and technique still amazes. And even the good leads found the opera somewhat heavy to carry entirely on their own. But what about those boos? The Met had not performed the piece since , and, frankly, few were clamoring for it. But this does not excuse her from having to work out the details of the concept. It's an exercise in pastoral - a genre ill-suited to the embittered 21st century - and today's audiences are apt to find it naive.
His light, tangy voice alternated between sweetness in the lyrical sections and sheer adrenaline when he skyrocketed into the stratosphere around high C. Occasionally the vibrato is too fast, where she can sound like she is singing around the note rather than through the middle of it, and at times I just wish she would sing with a straightforward, smooth legato. For instance, track 18 of CD 1, 'Oh ciel! La Sonnambula's story may be slight but the music is absolutely beautiful.
Dessay has a wonderful sense of drama, and she brings something of the otherworldliness of her Covent Garden Ophelia to this part as well, but having read rave reviews of this recording I have come away disappointed. Conductor Evelino Pido showed consideration in keeping the Met orchestra down, never overwhelming the light voices of his cast. Advertisement Continue reading the main story I wish I could say that Ms.