ROSSINI: William Tell
VERDI: I due foscari
This is a new and misguided production of Norma from the Royal Opera House September 2016. Alex Ollé and Valentina Carrasco directed with costumes by Lluc Castells. The stage usually is filled with bright. sharp metallic shapes (which seem inappropriate). Also inappropriate are the numerous crucifixes on stage; they have nothing to do with the plot. The only justification for owning this performance is the Norma of Sonya Yoncheva, a truly outstanding soprano with the power and agility to do justice to this demanding role (Anna Netrebko was cast originally, but withdrew from the production). Sonia Ganassi's Adalgesia also is impressive. Joseph Calleja's voice is an acquired taste. Vocally he is assured throughout but his voice has a rapid vibratos inappropriate for Italian opera. Video and audio ae excellent, and there is a brief bonus with performing/production artists discussing the production. There are many superb Normas on video; this is not one of them. Check out the incredible 1974 Orange Fesival peformance wih Montserrat Caballé (REVIEW).
Rossini's final opera, William Tell, is quite different from his earlier works. No comedy here in this opera based on Schiuller's play about the legendary character. This site mentioned a DVD in a modernized version with sets and costumes by Paul Brown and choreography by Rohn Howell, a production of Teatro Comunale Bologna. (REVIEW). The high point of that misguided production was Juan Diego Floréz as Arnold. This new modern production from the Royal Opera House, directed by Damiano Nichieletto with sets by Paolo Fantini, is also brought up to date in a confusing way. The cast is uniformly excellent with Gerald Finley in the title role. John Osborn is brilliant as Arnold; some listeners might even prefer his sound to that of Floréz. William Tell is a long opera that does not sustain interest for many listeners (including me). Extra features include an introduction to the opera and "The Tenor Voice." Audio favors the voices; orchestral sound is not as clear. Should you be interested in a video of this opera, check the La Scala version directed by Riccardo Muti (Opus Arte 3002)
I due Foscari, Verdi's sixth opera, relates the unfortunate story of Francesco Foscari, the Doge of Venice, who must lead the trial of his son, Jacopo, who has been unjustly accused of murder. The role of the elder Foscari has become a starring role for Plácido Domingo who has sung it to acclaim in London, Los Angeles and Vienna opera houses (his Royal Opera House performance is available on DVD). Now we have his performance of the opera in a reasonable new staging byy Alvis Hermanis. He is joined bhy rtwo of Italy s most exciting singers, soprano Anna Pirozzi and tenor Francesco Meli who also is heard as the younger Foscari in the Royal Opera production..This is a superb, important video of this opera, beautifully filmed with excellent audio. There is a 15 minute feature with Domingo discussing his assump[tion of baritone roles. This is a major opera issue.
R.E.B. (January 2018)