Les Vêpres siciliennes at Royal Opera House
The staging of this production of Verdi Les Vêpres siciliennes is full of lights and shadows. The night was saved by a very good musical direction and supreme singing by Bryan Hymel.
The Stefan Herheim production is based on the already seen so many times theatre within the theatre concept. That is fine. Question is if the Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach dramaturg is explicitly dumb and clumsy to remark this idea. If not, well, it’s a dumb and clumsy production. If so, you cannot hold a 4 hours night for of stupid acting just to make your point as a plot twist. So all the nice things like set design, costumes, symbolism were shadowed by this bigger problem.
On the musical side things went better, but not perfect. Biggest problem was Malin Byström as Hélène. She had a lot of troubles during most of the night with the jumps to the highest part of the voice, producing some awful open sounds.
Michael Volle as Montfort was correct. Erwin Schrott, ad expected, portrayed a virile Procida with strong singing and no delicacy. I missed proper verdian phrasing but was okeish.
Best of the night came with Bryan Hymel doing an amazing performance of the ungrateful role of Henri. Just keeping up with a character that spends almost 3 hours singing over the passage in mezzo forte is an herculean task. Doing it well is outstanding.
Benini, although failing to properly deliver the changing mood contrasts in the music did a very correct work. Specially brilliant was how he conducted singers ensembles, very to the point.