Monday, February 15, 2010

Sonnambula in Paris

Interior of Opera Bastille from my seat.

My only previous experience with seeing Bellini's La Sonnambula (billed here as La Somnambule though it was done in Italian) was the Met HD production. I'm glad I saw this one presented by the Paris Opera.

Digress to tirade: I'm going to say this again--the purpose of the production is to tell us who these people are, what is happening and why we should care about them. This leaves you a lot of leeway. Moving them around chronologically usually does not negatively impact this. Making them simultaneously two different people whom you can never clearly distinguish is a disaster. Caring about the characters is impossible.

Usher.

End of tirade. This production at the Paris Opera is set in a Swiss hotel high in the Alps c. 1930. We have a lovely Deco set and convincingly Swiss people, made up of a mixture of hotel staff and guests. Most of the named characters are staff. The first scene was creatively staged with Natalie Dessay as Amina entering in her working clothes and gradually changing into a bride. It was also very effective at the end of the first act when Javier Camarena as Elvino threw a chair through a window and snow started blowing in.

At the end Amina transformed into Natalie Dessay to be married in a bright red dress. I wasn't so sure about this.

Elvino Pido was the suitably Italian conductor. Michele Pertusi was Il Conte again, and Marie-Adeline Henry was the villainess Lisa. Camarena was an excellent high tenor. So they are around. The singing was all good.

I guess a guy would get pissed if he thought his girl was messing around on their wedding night. The chorus' sudden shift of loyalty to Lisa is a bit dubious. I read in the program that this production is from the Wienerstaatsoper.

Interior of Opera Bastille bar area.

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