Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Acting and Opera

Often times when reviews are done for opera it's the voice the review comments on. However, opera is also a dramatic performance, so there needs to be some attention paid to the presentation. As per a previous post, some of this attention comes in the way of casting making sure the person playing the part has some of the physical characteristics. But acting is more than just looking the part.

Diana Damrau (pictured) obviously went well beyond just looks in her performance of Lucia in the Met's production of Donizetti’s “Lucia di Lammermoor”. According to Anthony Tommasini "As Ms. Damrau played the daunting mad scene, the unhinged young woman, having stabbed to death the man she was forced to marry — the well-meaning Lord Arturo — was not vacant-eyed and spectral, like many Lucias. Instead she was fidgety and manic, all spastic bodily gestures as she lurched about the ballroom of Lammermoor Castle before the horrified wedding guests. She was like Vivien Leigh’s broken-down, jabbering yet still flirtatious Blanche DuBois in the final scene of 'A Streetcar Named Desire.'

"That Ms. Damrau executed the scene’s spiraling vocal roulades so accurately and held sustained tones with such penetrating steadiness lent a quality of eerie control to Lucia’s madness. And her gleaming top notes filled the house."

Mike Silverman of the Associated Press was equally impressed, "Her singing is likewise robust at the beginning, with house-filling high notes and expert ornamentation. But it's no mere exercise of vocal fireworks; there's a wonderful expressiveness in the way she modulates her tone and shapes the melodic line to fit the emotional moment. Later, in opera's most famous mad scene, she falls apart before our eyes, exploding in anger one moment, then floating mournful phrases that seem to hang in the air."

A blogger, Matt Windman on Am New York, was not completely overwhelmed by the performance but did have this to say, "showed incredible nuance and emotionality in her Act I meetings with her character's secret beau." Although he went on to say, "However, she lacked the young, almost childlike, occasionally zombie-like quality that Dessay brought to the role," speaking of Natalie Dessay who enjoyed in the title role originally in this production.

There are only six more performances of this production this month. Don't miss the opportunity to see some wonderful acting as well as first rate singing if you're in New York this month.

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