with the Otello of the San Carlo in Naples, all for the drama

Tenor Jonas Kaufmann, at the Waldbühne Berlin, May 10, 2023. Britta Pedersen/Britta Pedersen/dpa

In this Verdi opera, the composer is his own playwright. The action, the psychology, the dramatic construction are given by the musical writing.

With the exception of the Bernard Lefort years, when Montserrat Caballé, Marilyn Horne and José Carreras set the festival at the hour of the Belcantist thrill, the divas have never been quite at home in Aix, which favors the spirit of troop. However, wouldn’t the presence of stars be a means of attracting lyricophiles? John Osborn in jeans from ProphetLisette Oropesa and Pene Pati in love with Lucia of Lammermoor are among those singers whose vocal mastery equals their sense of style.

But the great lyrical thrill is with Jonas Kaufman, Ludovic Tezier and Maria Agresta that it is guaranteed in I’otello by Verdi. When the tenor megastar, albeit in a more unpredictable phase of his career, and the greatest baritone Verdi of the last half century are reunited, something always happens: their animal magnetism is added to the technical dexterity to bring out the exceptional. Not to mention their complicity, which allows them to perform their theater even without sets or costumes.

Read alsoJonas Kaufmann: “The opera is still alive”

We await their revenge duo at the end of Act II, “If pel sky”, real confrontation at the top where you can smell the smell of blood. The concert version is an opportunity to focus on the musical universe of a work. However, in his penultimate work, created in 1887 at La Scala when he was 73 years old, Verdi rises to the height of Shakespeare by showing that at the Opera, despite the librettist, it is the composer who is his own playwright. The action, the psychology, the dramatic construction are given by the musical writing.

And the vector of the drama is the orchestra, more than ever the protagonist and not the accompanist, in this late Verdi, which experienced the Wagnerian revolution and emancipated itself from the stereotyped formulas of bel canto. No more separate arias, but a continuous narrative, beginning with an orchestral and choral storm that is one of the most searing introductions in the history of opera. We can finally taste the groundswell with the orchestra on stage. Unique opportunity to observe the work of Michele Mariotti: otello is a chef’s opera.

Grand Théâtre de Provence, July 17, at 8 p.m.

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