Il Trovatore
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In Review > International

Il Trovatore

AMSTERDAM
Dutch National Opera
11/1/15

DUTCH NATIONAL OPERA's new production of Il Trovatore started off in a somewhat ridiculous way, at least for anyone who cared about the text. Ferrando's “Wake up!” was not directed at the dozing soldiers described in the libretto: the opening scene showed a busy twentieth-century army camp with soldiers going on and off, carrying bodies, weapons and whatever else was related to a war going on. This unspecified war dominated the whole opera, as stage director Alex Ollé (of La Fura dels Baus) was convinced that only an episode like that created circumstances that could explain the story of the libretto. From a strictly logical point of view Ollé may have been right, but one wished that he had spent more energy in working with the protagonists. For much of the performance, the drama seemed deprived of the emotional life that Verdi valued so highly and worked for so completely; more than once, one even wondered if the soloists realized what was going on. 

Carmen Giannattasio was a more vocally convincing Leonora in her slightly Mozartean “Tacea la note” than in the heavier “D'amor sull'ali rosee.” In the finale of Act II, her acting was strangely uninvolved, even during the last performance of the run on November 1.  In her duet with Luna, one of the most dramatic moments in the score, both Giannattasio and the colourless baritone Simone Piazzola acted as if they were improvising without any rehearsal at all.

The real Verdian pathos of the performance came from Francesco Meli, a Manrico with a well-crafted, technically sound Italianate tenor with ringing top notes, and from Violeta Urmana as a emotionally burning Azucena. It is a pity that Urmana’s rich mezzo-soprano has lost some of its bloom after singing many soprano parts. Bass Roberto Tagliavini gave a solid contribution as a energetic young Ferrando, though his age made it very unlikely that he was able to recognize Azucena as the Gypsy who once throw a baby on the stake. (Apparently that kind of logic was not really interesting to the Ollé.)

Happily, the experienced conductor Maurizio Benini showed enough feeling for the musical side of the drama, especially in his scenes with Manrico and Azucena.  —Paul Korenhof 

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