Monday, November 8, 2010
From the haunting cello lines in the overture to the luscious ballgown Violetta was wearing in front of moveable dressing room mirrors, everything was smooth as silk. The mirrors rolled away to become windows in Violetta’s luxurious ballroom as she stifled her tubercular cough to become the hostess with the mostess. Her control melted as her admirer, Alfredo (sung with powerful passion by Alok Kumar) slowly became courageous enough to declare his love.
Kumar’s tenor was so rich that his tone remained round and full – resoundingly secure, even in passages where the orchestra was silent. He built in intensity from his shy brindisi, his happy bollenti spiriti, to his tortured che feci.
Maestro Mark Graf coordinated the solos, duets, trios, quartets with aplomb – and pulled a great performance out of both singers and orchestra, especially the Finale.
The duet between Germont (Brian Carter) and Violetta was incredibly gripping. Germont paced himself as he slowly built his arguments to convince Violetta to release her hold on his son. When he pulled his last trump card, telling Violetta that illicit love is bound to fade (Un di, quando le venere il tempo avra fugate), his voice was unctuous--fatherly but threatening with doom--and his song was punctuated perfectly by the strings. The clarinets, smooth and melodic throughout the opera, added poignancy to Piange, piange.
The lighting gave us the illusion that the moving mirrors had become windows with panes. That and the detailing of the costumes with showy petticoats and beautiful shiny materials just put a cherry on the top of a beautiful production. Next shows are November 12 and 13.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Danielle Rice, executive director of the Delaware Art Museum, hosted a delightful open discussion about fallen women of the Nineteenth Century and asked the audience why the theme permeated literature, music and art of the time. She started the ball rolling by showing slides of art depicting fallen women. Her first example was William Holdman Hunt’s The awakening conscience since it had been completed in the same year as Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata (the fallen woman). Her partner in leading the discussion was Lee Kimball, general and artistic director of Opera Delaware, who will present La Traviata at the Grand Opera House on November 7, 12 and 13. The two are friends, which made the lively discussion even more fun. Mr. Kimball bravely pointed out that usually it is the fallen woman who gets killed or arrested or punished, while the fallen man tends to walk away with only a few regrets.
After the discussion, the crowd mingled and enjoyed delicious hors d’oeuvres and drinks which they brought to the entrance hall of the museum, where the grand piano was waiting for Jeffrey Miller, chorus master and associate music director of Opera Delaware and Colleen Daly, soprano and Alak Kumar, tenor. The two will be singing the lead roles in La Traviata and if this foretaste in which they sang La Brindisi is any indication, the next time we hear those two could be at Lincoln Center.
The intimacy of the setting, the lively discussion and the informal concert made it feel as if we were attending a party at Barone Douphol’s house watching Alfredo flirt with Violetta in front of her rich lover…
Having had the hors d’oeuvre, my appetite has been whetted for the main course. See you at the Grand.