[Met Performance] CID:350370
Metropolitan Opera Premiere
Il Pirata {1} Metropolitan Opera House: 10/21/2002.

(Debuts: Tigran Martirossian, Garrett Sorenson, Josh Gilman, Robert Perdziola

Metropolitan Opera House
October 21, 2002
Metropolitan Opera Premiere


Imogene.................Renée Fleming
Gualtiero...............Marcello Giordani
Ernesto.................Dwayne Croft
Goffredo................Tigran Martirossian [Debut]
Adele...................Maria Zifchak
Itulbo..................Garrett Sorenson [Debut]
Son of Imogene..........Josh Gilman [Debut]

Conductor...............Bruno Campanella

Production..............John Copley
Set Designer............John Conklin
Costume Designer........Robert Perdziola [Debut]
Lighting Designer.......Duane Schuler

Il Pirata received nine performances this season.

Tigran Martirossian's name was spelled Martirosyan in his first performances
but changed to Martirossian as of 2/5/2003.

The production a gift in part from Karen and Kevin Kennedy,
Bill Rollnick and Nancy Ellison Rollnick and Mr. and Mrs. Ezra K. Zilkha.

Addtional funding provided by Gilbert S. Kahn and John J. Noffo Kahn and
The Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust

Review of Marion Lignana Rosenberg in the January 2003 issue of OPERA NEWS

Pressed for her views on a disappointing concert by the incomparable Giuditta Pasta, nineteenth-century diva Pauline Viardot likened Pasta's performance to da Vinci's Last Supper: "a wreck of a picture," she said, but still "the greatest picture in the world." Shuffling the terms may yield a fair assessment of Renée Fleming's Imogene in the Metropolitan Opera premiere of Bellini's "Il Pirata": a great singer, but the evening was still something of a wreck.

Granted, the twenty-five-year-old composer's score probably has never been sung by a lovelier voice. Fleming's vocalism, at its best, was of awesome beauty: iridescent pianissimos, buttery tone and shipshape trills. Who today can match her singing for technical wizardry and sheer sumptuousness? At the same time, the "expressive" tics that have increasingly marred Fleming's performances were everywhere in evidence. She dug into Imogene's first recitative ("Sorgete!"), an expression of compassion, with the kind of ferocious glottal attacks that most sopranos would reserve for Abigaille's tirades in "Nabucco." Her Act I cabaletta, taken at an implausibly gooey tempo, dissolved into a mass of heaving, overwrought phrases. And though Fleming's mad scene was one of the boldest, most accomplished pieces of singing one could hope to hear --- silken runs, perfectly executed diminuendos, gleaming high notes flung out with almost defiant abandon - it was also oddly anticlimactic, too much of a piece with the scenery-chewing that had gone on since her entrance. In short, Fleming's over-the-top way with this music seemed at odds with the essential (and paradoxical) discipline of bel canto. That discipline is a kind of "straitjacketing," as Maria Callas put it, requiring clean attacks, flowing lines and unfussy handling of verbal and musical detail.

While Fleming has the technical wherewithal to excel in this repertory; the same cannot be said of her Gualtiero, Marcello Giordani. With his proud bearing and authentic Sicilian good looks, he seemed every inch the Byronesque outlaw,
and he nailed Gualtiero's cruelly exposed high Cs and Ds, his ringing, brilliant tones setting the air in the theater atingle. How he made his way above the staff, though, was another matter entirely. Muscle, morrbidezza, is Giordani's strong
suit. He managed some inspired singing (a meltingly beautiful mezza voce at "Pietosa al padre," for example, in the Act I duet with Imogene) and made the most of his character's flimsy dramatic substance. But there is a hardness to his tone that is ill-suited to Bellini's long, supple cantilena, and he sometimes barreled his way through the score, which cries out for finesse no less than for manly vigor.

The evening's one unqualified triumph belonged to baritone Dwayne Croft as Ernesto, Imogene's unloved, hard-hearted spouse. Croft sounded like a throwback to the Golden Age. His tone was round and smooth, his roulades flowed like oil, and his every phrase and gesture radiated aristocratic hauteur. Maria Zifchak, Tigran Mattirossian and Garrett Sorenson sang their smaller roles effectively, and the Met Orchestra under Bruno Campanella played with more care than they usually muster for early-Ottocento opera.

Added Index Entries for Subjects and Names

Back to short citation(s).