[Met Performance] CID:354555
Il Trovatore {626} Matinee ed. Metropolitan Opera House: 09/29/2012.

(Debut: Guanqun Yu

Metropolitan Opera House
September 29, 2012 Matinee

Giuseppe Verdi--Salvatore Cammarano

Manrico.................Gwyn Hughes Jones
Leonora.................Guanqun Yu [Debut]
Count Di Luna...........Franco Vassallo
Azucena.................Dolora Zajick
Ferrando................Morris Robinson
Ines....................Maria Zifchak
Ruiz....................Hugo Vera
Messenger...............David Lowe
Gypsy...................Brandon Mayberry

Conductor...............Daniele Callegari

Production..............David McVicar
Set Designer............Charles Edwards
Costume Designer........Brigitte Reiffenstuel
Lighting Designer.......Jennifer Tipton
Choreographer...........Leah Hausman
Stage Director..........Paula Williams

The revival a gift of the Metropolitan Opera Club

Il Trovatore is a co-production with Lyric Opera of Chicago and San Francisco Opera

Il Trovatore received twelve performances this season.

Review of Joshua Rosenblum in the September 2012 issue of Opera News

"Il Trovatore," famous in equal parts for its improbable plot and terrific tunes, returned to the Metropolitan Opera in a revival of David McVicar's well-received 2009 production. Italian soprano Carmen Giannattasio was scheduled to make her Met debut as Leonora, but illness forced her to withdraw from the dress rehearsal and the [first night] of the run, at the September 29 matinee. Guanqun Yu, who was already scheduled to sing the role in three subsequent performances, made her Met debut that afternoon in Giannattasio's place.

Yu, a native of Shandong, China, who won second prize last June in the Operalia competition, revealed a flexible, beautifully marbled soprano that trembled with emotion, along with a naturalistic acting style that was fully integrated into her singing. She turned the soaring phrases of "Tacea la notte placida" into a luscious treat, pouring her heart out about the man she loves and letting us know right out of the gate that the action would be based on authentically grand passion.

This is essential, since some of the plot is rather unconvincing. How, for example,
is one to believe that the Gypsy woman Azucena spends the entire opera showering maternal affection onto a man she has raised as her son, only to rejoice at the end when that same man's death becomes a vessel for her own revenge on the Count whose father killed her mother? All this becomes not only plausible but maximally gripping, thanks to the force of nature that is Dolora Zajick, who has been singing Azucena in Met "Trovatore"s since 1988. Zajick, who inhabits this character so thoroughly that it barely seems as if she is playing a role, commands the stage fully with her splendid vocal authority, including great chesty low notes and vibrant, richly infused highs. One could hear a pin drop at the end of her magnificent "Stride la vampa," which was only a warmup for her riveting "Condotta ell'era in ceppi," the account of Azucena's mother's death at the stake. Zajick even made the potentially bewildering final moments of the opera seem not just credible but inevitable.

Gwyn Hughes Jones, whose brawny, heroic tenor voice has baritonal colorings, brought excitement to the proceedings even in the first sound of his offstage singing, which revealed enough passion to make it clear that his Manrico would be able to match the standard of gripping drama already laid down by Yu's Leonora. His "Di quella pira" rang with vibrant excitement; the Met Chorus and Orchestra roaring full throttle at the end of that number paved the way thrillingly for Hughes Jones's fully confident concluding high C. He and Yu did a very impressive job of matching tone color, phrasing and dynamics in their Act II duet.

Baritone Franco Vassallo as Count di Luna was gratifyingly menacing in both his stage presence and his intense, dark tone color. His ode to Leonora outside the cloister was phrased with convincing ardor, but his best moments were in his face-offs with Hughes Jones's Manrico; the two gave off genuine sparks of hostility and egged each other on to great vocal and theatrical effect.

Bass Morris Robinson, as Ferrando, launched the proceedings with welcome, steely-voiced strength in "Abietta zingara," and Maria Zifchak, with her enveloping mezzo, proved a worthy scene partner for Yu as Leonora's attendant Ines. Daniele Callegari is not the flashiest of conductors, but he was very good at following the singers (even when they rushed), and he was able to provide considerable nuance while keeping the pulse driving forward--- a winning combination in an exciting afternoon at the opera.

Production photos of Il Trovatore by Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera.

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