Because it was Cecilia Bartoli's main vehicle early in her career, Rossini's La Cenerentola is probably the piece of music I have listened to most. The ensembles are wonderful. Riccardo Chailly, the conductor on Cecilia's recording, is fabulous, and I would have to say based on the Saturday simulcast from the Met of La Cenerentola and last year's Barber of Seville that Maurizio Benini is, too. There were occasional minor disconnects between the singers and the orchestra, but generally it was very fine.
The production by Cesare Lievi was created for Bartoli's debut at the Met, but I don't think I'd seen it before. It has certain features in common with the Zurich production I did see.
- Buckets of water, umbrella and fire in the storm scene.
- A rows of shoes lined up along the front of the stage to remind us of the fairy tale.
- The men's chorus in bowlers.
- A string wound around the ensemble in the second act, though in Zurich it was Bartoli who did the winding while here it was the Prince.
The simplicity of the production made it easy to follow the plot. When the Met decides to use a European production, it makes certain changes, typically including changing the costumes to a more conservative earlier period. That appears to be what has happened here.
Alessandro Corbelli as Don Magnifico was magnifico and much less annoying than anyone else I have seen in this role. He is a buffo bass, did Gianni Schicchi last season, and explained in the interviews that he plays comic roles seriously. He is very talented in his Fach.
Alidoro / Angel was also very pleasing in the person of John Relyea. Is there anything he can't do?
Both extremes of coloratura styles could be heard: most singers articulated the coloratura, but both Lawrence Brownlee as Don Ramiro and Elina Garanča as Angelina sang a very legato style. Interesting. Bartoli, Florez leggiero. Elina Garanča, Anna Netrebko, Lawrence Brownlee legato.
Elina explained in her interview that she is moving away from Rossini--which based on this example she does very well--to Romantic repertoire. I hope she will stick with Bellini.
Lawrence Brownlee. I had never heard him before. Oddly, the part actually sounded a bit low for him. In his low register he sounds almost like a baritone--far more than Jonas Kaufmann in my opinion--but his upper register just won't quit. He has astounding ping in his high notes. It would be interesting to hear him in some Rubini repertoire. Please understand that I am describing and not criticizing. His coloratura is very natural for a tenor.
Elina and Lawrence were on the same page musically and together made a beautiful Cenerentola. Of course, she is much too gorgeous for him, but perhaps Angelina sees things differently.