|Angela Meade as Anna Bolena, 2008|
Courtesy Academy of Vocal Arts
A surprise change was hearing the Giovanna Seymour of Katherine Goeldner, in for Ekaterina Gubanova. I thought Miss Goeldner's singing and acting were beautiful. She has a full mezzo voice of impressive range and power, and I was quite happy she was our Giovanna. I hadn't been very happy with Miss Gubanova in the broadcast on opening night. In her duets with Enrico and with Anna, Miss Goeldner sang beautifully and gave a powerful performance dramatically, no doubt bringing out the strengths of Miss Meade and Ildar Adrazakov as Enrico. Although I'd heard and read reports that Mr. Adrazakov lacked dramatic impact as Enrico, I did not find him stiff or lacking in dramatic temperament, particularly when paired with Miss Goeldner.
I can't say I'd heard Stephen Costello very much before recently, and in truth I do think his voice is a little light for the role of Percy, but I also think that most of his singing last night was among the best I've heard of him. After a tentative start, he soared in the duets and ensembles.
I quite liked Tamara Mumford, graduate of the Met's Lindermann Young Artist Program, as Smeaton. I see great things for her in the future. And international shirt-taker-offer and baritone Keith Miller sang beautifully as Rochefort, leaving me wanting more. Also of his singing.
The Met chorus was predictably amazing, and the orchestra, in spite of one or two glacks and some overpowering moments, shone as well. Although I usually don't have any complaints with conductor Marco Armiliato, at times it seemed he was mentally following the other cast from the pit. Were I the soprano, his head would be the one to come off after the way he treated her final cadence, or lack thereof, in "Coppia iniqua".
The McVicar production. Visually stunning. I loved the design, the costumes, the moveable set pieces. I liked how it seemed that Enrico's and Giovanna's costumes became more colorful as their sin, as it were, grew more flagrant. I liked the proper use of the stage elevator for the sets. This is the Met doing big stage machinery right, so that one is not distracted wondering what the set is going to do next as in certain other recent productions. I quite liked the appearance of the executioner in the final moment as the set for Anna's prison chambers descended and he was standing on the floor of the set above. I liked the sudden drop of the blood-red curtain, and liked having the executioner remain in the very same spot through the extended and appreciative curtain call.
What didn't I like? I didn't like bits of blocking, notably the repeated unassisted kneeling and rising, that were clearly designed for another soprano, so that the Queen of England was forced to rise unassisted and look a little awkward doing so. Even if the Queen of England were as lithe as a gymnast, she wouldn't rise unassisted. I also didn't like the fact that the Met, which is known for not taking even traditional cuts in most operas, shortened Percy's arias and cabalettas considerably.
These are small quibbles. Overall, I think the Met has a fine production on its hands, and I hope we see it enter the repertory for many seasons to come. I look forward to seeing many more fine performances from Angela Meade and Katherine Goeldner at the Met and elsewhere.
And I'm happy to see Mr. Donizetti getting his due more and more. How long before we see La Favorita at the Met? Belisario? Poliuto? Dom Sébastien? OK, I have a car and can go to other, more adventurous opera companies and fantasize about a more adventurous Met.