Rigoletto at ROH: flawed cast and direction
Wow. For the first time I saw the same opera production in two different cities/opera houses. Does that make me an opera-pro?
It was interesting seeing how a production that somehow worked in a different place didn’t quite work here. Of course having better casts (3!) in Madrid two years ago (Nucci, Rodríguez, Peretyatko, Oropesa…) made a difference but probably the biggest one was the conductor. In Madrid Luisotti conducted it remarking the dark side of the score. Here Alexander Joel focused more in the aggressive part, with big contrasts and lousy playing that made the orchestra sound like a band. I have to say that the dark frightening approach fit better McVicar than this punchy one.
After a so so Rodolfo this year Michael Fabiano was casted as the Duke. This role is one of the trickiest ones in the whole Verdi world. It demands not only a very specific voice but also a total control of the phrasing. Fabiano phrasing was strange and weird and that totally ruined the whole portrayal.
Dimitri Platanias on the title role was also problematic. Breathing problems and short of fiato. Someone told me he was sick recovering. Hopefully he can improve on next performances.
This was the first time I listened to Sofia Fomina. She had a lot of problems attacking the high notes. Looking at her past repertoire including Olympia or Queen of the Night I guess this is a new/temporal problem.
Nadia Krasteva as Maddalena was the most interesting voice with a really personal colour.
Another good example on how Joel was only interested on astounding by making noise was the disaster the “Bella figlia” quartet was. You need a lot of work from the conductor to get this sounding like a proper ensemble. And it was not this night.