[Met Performance] CID:354339
Ernani {90} Metropolitan Opera House: 02/06/2012.


Metropolitan Opera House
February 6, 2012

Giuseppe Verdi--Francesco Maria Piave

Ernani..................Roberto De Biasio
Elvira..................Angela Meade
Don Carlo...............Dmitri Hvorostovsky
Don Ruy Gomez de Silva..Ferruccio Furlanetto
Giovanna................Mary Ann McCormick
Don Riccardo............Adam Laurence Herskowitz
Jago....................Jeremy Galyon

Conductor...............Marco Armiliato

Production..............Pier Luigi Samaritani
Set Designer............Pier Luigi Samaritani
Costume Designer........Peter J. Hall
Lighting Designer.......Gil Wechsler
Stage Director..........Peter McClintock

Review of Fred Cohn in the April 2012 issue of Opera News

It was a pleasure to return to Pier Luigi Samaritani's production of "Ernani" on February 2. True, even twenty-nine years ago it represented a rear-guard approach to mounting Verdi; moreover, the sets and costumes, so eye-filling when new, now give off a distinct musk. But as staged by Peter McClintock for its season premiere, this "Ernani"'s sober integrity made it seem, if anything, fresh. We were watching an opera, not an opera-within-an opera. No photographers showed up during ensembles as explanations for the performers' immobility. By remaining unembarrassed by the conventions of the genre, the production allowed us to see "Ernani" whole.

If the production had a "concept," it was that this opera's meaning lies in its music - an approach that put responsibility for the evening's success squarely on the singers' shoulders. Luckily, the revival was quite strongly cast. For the first time in her Met career, soprano Angela Meade was assigned to the first cast of a production; her performance on this evening made one hope this becomes a regular practice. Earlier in the season, spelling Anna Netrebko in the title role of "Anna Bolena," Meade had been capable but a little recessive, as if afraid to seize the performing moment. But as Elvira, she was on fire. Her voice was that of a true Verdian spinto, full of complex shadings, but ringing freely throughout the house. It easily, and rightly, dominated ensembles: the massed forces seemed to cohere around the soprano line. Her defining moment came in the last phrase of "Ernani, involami," when, after a deftly executed cadenza, Meade held on to the penultimate note, swelling and brightening the sound at its very end to push the phrase forward to its finish. This was the mark not just of an impressive vocalist but of an exciting singer.

Dmitri Hvorostovsky's voice is a thing of velvet rather than steel; it lacks the bite that would enable it to cut through the "agitato" writing that underscores many of
Don Carlo's declamations. Wisely, the Russian baritone did not attempt to do what his voice wouldn't allow: he let the orchestra cover him rather than bark his way over it. But what he did do was extraordinary, whether it was spinning out the cantabile line of "Oh de' verd'anni miei" or launching the "Vieni meco" cabaletta in arching four-measure phrases. Ferruccio Furlanetto, more suited to Verdi by nature, sang with such authority that it was as if the score had assumed bodily form in his person. The great oaken sound betrayed some flecks of age; these not only were perfectly appropriate for the character of Silva but gave the singing a true human face. Given this heady company, it was almost inevitable that Roberto De Biasio, playing the title character, would get overshadowed. His voice, with its baritonal cast, may not be a brilliant instrument, but his solid technique allowed him to tackle Ernani's music accurately and stylishly.

Marco Armiliato showed himself as a "singer's conductor" in all senses of the phrase. In recitatives, he tended to let his cast call the shots, sometimes at the expense of momentum. But elsewhere he guided his orchestra to convey the vigor of Verdi's writing through sharp, buoyant attacks rather than volume, creating a handsome frame for the singers' impressive efforts.

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