Cavalleria Rusticana + Pagliacci at ROH
Believe it or not this was my first Cavalleria and my first Pagliacci on theatre in my life. And it couldn’t be better.
Let start with the obvious: Elina Garança was perfect. After her Eboli in Paris Don Carlos I was waiting for this Cavalleria as one of the top highlights of the opera season. And yes, confirmed: she is the best mezzo these days. Her voice, her singing line, her acting… is just perfect.
Big surprise was Bryan Hymel take on the Turiddu role. He was a couple of months ago doing Verdi French opera and now he perfectly switched to full Italian verismo in a great and idiomatic way. He got all the verismo nuances so in deep that you could easily mistake him for a post-WWII tenor.
The production by Damiano Michieletto is great. It takes the verismo view to the proper end and, for example, you really believe that the guys at the Panificio are making real bread. It emphasizes the drama, giving space to the characters to fully expose their drama. The scene during the intermezzo was genius and reminded my to some Almodóvar aesthetics.
Oren conducting was quite good, despite some initial oddities in the prelude (like trying to get woodwind details too much over the strings).
In another herculean task Bryan Hymel did the double bill by taking the Canio role after Sartori withdrawn (singing Henri at Vespres is another herculean task, believe me). It made perfect sense. And it was his triumph again. He sang his arias with amazing force. His crying after vesti la giubba was outstanding, and this is critical to get into this work: a dumb or artificial crying can totally ruin the audience immersion on the work.
Carmen Giannattasio was good, with a very beautiful singing, elegant and clear. I might have desired a little bit more visceral take on the Nedda role, however.
Simon Keenlyside was a brutal Tonio.
Production was fine, maybe a little bit more confusing than Cavalleria but still smart enough.
Oren here didn’t have any extravaganza but the orchestra started distracted and the choir wasn’t so well as in Cavalleria.