Sunday, October 25, 2009

Season opener: Kunde and Antonacci rawk Alceste

I never thought that a concert performance of a Gluck opera could be that exciting.
Nor did I ever think that watching the exact same concert performance of the same Gluck opera 3 days later could be even more exciting.
That was the case though in what appeared to be the opening of the Opera Season in Athens (the ailing Greek National Opera is trying to put itself together for the belated -due to debts and internal problems- premiere of November the 21st with Ariadne auf Naxos and the debut of Hui He in the title role).
Anna Caterina Antonacci reigned in both performances and awed primarily with her exquisite presence, movement, posture and her brilliant singing. Hers was not a classicistic Alceste à
la Baker, her approach was vibrant, modern, full of life, a 21st Century princess.

Antonacci's performance was not trouble-free, she appeared unstable during the Act 1 recitativi of the first performance and she sounded tired in the
Divinités du Styx of the second one. A drop in the ocean, considering her marvellous overall achievement.

Gregory Kunde was for many members of the audience the absolute star of the evening. I don't blame them. All of us who have followed Greg's career throughout the years, with the ups and downs, with the health issues and the vocal crisis, are left with an open mouth every time we "face" his vocal renaissance. His Admète was noble, mellifluous, perfect in style, excellent indeed- even if he, as well, at the first performance made us break out in cold sweat with his unstable entrance.

Dimitris Platanias was an astounding High Priest,
imposing and robust, offering some highly impressive singing,
Dimitris Tiliakos was a lukewarm Hercules at the first performance, showing signs of being unprepared, however his improvement at the second performance was more than obvious and he carried out the part in quite a charming manner.

Vassilis Kavayas, the young leggero tenor, a student of Aris Christofellis Barbara Bonney , displays a very interesting instrument and his Evandre was more than satisfying, especially if you take into consideration his very young age (23!). Keep an eye on this fella!

Petros Magoulas was a resonant Oracle/Herald/Apollo, however I would have enjoyed some more refined and focused singing.
Congrats to the coryphées, Myrsini Margariti and Maria Vlachopoulou for their fresh, gorgeous singing that put a spotlight on their peripheral yet significant parts.

Maestro George Petrou breathed life to Gluck's score, his conducting was exemplary and it was a mesmerizing experience to watch him conduct from that close (well, very close indeed). Some rare slips of the orchestra- the brass mainly- were not enough to spoil the satisfying impression while the ERT Chorus had some problems of synch at the 1st but nonetheless improved in the 2nd performance.

I found the lights and the projections rather poor,
however the total-black set created an aura of mistery and made us focus completely on the singers (ain't that the aim of every concert performance?).

Peaks of the night: The breath-taking duets of Alceste and Admete in Acts 2 and 3,
the High priest's entrance aria,
the exquisite orchestra in the finale of Act 2.

~Photoalbum right below~


Willym said...

Finally! That second performance was a wonderful evening - so glad I could share it with you. Antonacci was riveting and I can add nothing to your comments about Kunde. Mille grazie!

Anonymous said...

Is Anna Caterina Antonacci the most beautiful woman in the world or does Angelina Jolie just beat her? Wish I couuld have been at this concert!

mahler76 said...

πραγματικά καταπληκτική βραδιά.

mahler76 said...

καλά αφήνεις να περάσουν και τα κινέζικα σπάμ?

Parsifal said...

Ama sou pw oti den eixa kan dei pou odhgoun ta links...