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In Review > International

Adriana Lecouvreur

Wiener Staatsoper

In Review Vienna Adriana hdl 1217
Piotr Beczala and Anna Netrebko, Maurizio and Adriana Lecouvreur in David McVicar's production of Cilea's opera at the Wiener Staatsoper
© Wiener Staatsoper GmbH / Michael Pöhn
In Review Vienna Adriana lg 1217
Netrebko © Wiener Staatsoper GmbH / Michael Pöhn

THE BIG NEWS AT WIENER STAATSOPER in early November was the local premiere of David McVicar’s well-traveled traditional staging of Adriana Lecouvreur, first seen at Covent Garden in 2010. The principals for the November 9 premiere were Anna Netrebko and Piotr Beczala, both in glorious form in their house role debuts—and both scheduled to repeat their assignments at the Met when the McVicar staging arrives in New York in December 2018. 

McVicar’s staging features lavish costumes by Brigitte Reiffenstuel, sumptuous settings by Charles Edwards, and a clean dramatic throughline, supervised in Vienna by Justin Way. The backstage mise-en-scène was neatly managed, the love scenes glowed with impressive heat and the confrontation between the wicked Principessa and the wronged Adriana crackled with energy and authority. The only serious flaw in the staging was the last act, which was dressed so sparely that it seemed anti-climactic. The small parts—of which there are many—were all cast well, with the juiciest performances coming from Alexandru Moisuc, a vivid Principe du Bouillon, and Raúl Giménez, an aptly unctuous Abate. Roberto Frontali offered a solidly acted, idiomatically sung Michonnet.

To my ear, the only weak link in the central love trio was the Principessa di Bouillon of Elena Zhidkova, a very handsome mezzo-soprano who looked ravishing in her eighteenth-century-style panniers and towering wigs, but overacted with worrying abandon, tearing away at “Acerba voluttà” like a hungry lioness. In the Hôtel de Bouillon scene, Zhidkova was left in the dust by the superb Adriana of Netrebko, whose ear-catching combination of fire and ice was perfectly judged. Netrebko’s beauty and charisma were expected assets in an opera that requires a decorative heroine, but the soprano’s formidable dramatic intelligence gave shape and substance to Adriana’s every scene, with her elegant performance capped by a show-stopping “Poveri fiori.” Beczala, properly ardent and handsome, was in terrific voice, knocking “La dolcissima effigie” and “L’anima ho stanca” out of the park, to the vociferous delight of the Viennese public.

Evelino Pidò was the gentlemanly conductor, unfailingly considerate of his three principals but less sure-footed in establishing the tricky balance between the orchestra and the chattering artistes in Act I.  —F. Paul Driscoll 

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