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Filianoti and Nemorino

Chicago, 02/02/2010. Civic Opera. Gaetano Donizetti, L’elisir d’amore. Giulio Chazalettes (original production). Vincent Liotta (stage director). Ulisse Santicchi (Set and Costume Designer). Jason Brown (Lighting Designer). Giuseppe Filianoti (Nemorino), Nicole Cabell (Adina), Alessandro Corbelli (Dulcamara), Gabriele Viviani (Belcore), Angela Mannino (Giannetta). The Orchestra and Chorus of the Lyric Opera of Chicago. Donald Nally, chorus master. Bruno Campanella, conductor
imagen Last year, when the Lyric Opera announced its upcoming opera season, I found myself stirred by a mix of excitement and apprehension upon reading that the male protagonist of Gaetano Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore would be interpreted by the Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti. I had heard Filianoti on several occasions a few years before, when I was conquered by the beauty of his vocal colors -the colors of a warm, pure lyric tenor- and by his spontaneous, immediate musicianship: an ideal mix of qualities for one of the most popular roles Donizetti ever conceived for a tenor. Yet, I also couldn’t help noticing that at the time his technique was somehow unaccomplished, especially when he reached the top register: he naturally could sing the highest notes, but he mastered them in a way that sounded problematic to me. In the last couple of years I had lost track of him. I knew he had turned to more dramatic roles, and rumors spread out that he was experiencing serious vocal troubles. When in December 2008, he was dismissed from the new production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Don Carlo only a few days before it opened the new season of La Scala in Milan, I feared those rumors were true. Thus my apprehension in reading that he was scheduled to sing Nemorino at the Lyric.

In fact, Filianoti did undergo a period of poor health, though this was apparently unrelated to his repertoire choices. But, judging from the performance he gave in Chicago, he seems to have completely recovered. When I finally heard him in Donizetti’s opera, not only did I find the radiant, warm voice I remembered, but I could hardly find any trace of those technical problems that bothered me in the past. It also seemed to me that the volume of his voice has considerably increased since the last time I heard him.

His Nemorino was unquestionably the backbone of the whole production: his vibrant singing showed a wide range of expressive colors, from the freshness with which Filianoti performed the brilliant duets with Dulcamara and Belcore to the melancholy of his show-stopping rendition of the romanza ‘Una furtiva lagrima’. And what an actor! Making use of his sizable experience in the role (and probably having assimilated recent scenic renditions of it by other colleagues of his), Filianoti managed to monopolize the traditional, pleasant, but little inventive staging conceived over thirty years ago by Giulio Chazalettes (revived this season by Vincent Liotta).

Appearing beside him, Alessandro Corbelli, as Dulcamara, also gave life to a vivid character. Corbelli transcends the usual category of buffo singing, in which, all too often still, the actual singing is obscured by a disproportionate emphasis on belly-laugh effects. (That this is not what composers such as Rossini and Donizetti had in mind when they conceived their comic roles is crystal clear simply by virtue of how demanding these roles are.) Corbelli knows all the secrets of how to enliven his character. At the same time he maintains a high standard of musical performance: he possesses unique skills of elocution, and along with a solid vocal technique that allows him 'play' the role with the voice, while maintaining a firm control of the singing line. His acting skills are equally well-balanced. Dulcamara provided Corbelli with plenty of occasions to demonstrate his ability, starting with his hilarious, yet polished, rendition of his entrance aria (a veritable tour de force in terms of tongue-twisting articulation of the text) and all the way through the closing number, in which the charlatan takes the credit for the happy-ending of the opera.

The other singers were seemingly overshadowed by their two colleagues. Gabriele Viviani (Belcore) has a powerful voice, but his stylistical approach to the role came off as somewhat coarse. True, Belcore is nothing more than a blusterer, who tries to impress Adina with a parody of belcanto singing. Yet, in order for the parody to be effective, the flourishes of the vocal line should be valorized as an ironic means of expression and not simply bungled as Viviani sang them. Nicole Cabell has the freshness and sparkle of Adina, and the audience clearly loved her. Her second-act aria was extremely well-received (despite the fact that, as often, the cabaletta ‘Il mio rigor dimentica’ was shortened), and her verve contributed positively to the overall level of the performance. In its most lyrical moment, though, Donizetti’s music reveals the humanity of the characters, suspending its commedia dell’arte intrigue; it was during these moments of the performance that I wished that Cabell’s singing had featured more vocal pulp and interpretative depth. Angela Mannino (Giannetta) didn’t sound as effective as she had in other productions of the Lyric.

Under Bruno Campanella, the orchestra of the Lyric Opera sounded as brilliant and transparent as the score requires. The conductor, one of the world experts of the belcanto repertoire, adeptly avoided treating the simple orchestration as a banal support of the singers, but always made sure to illuminate the many subtle details (accents, flexibility of tempi, changes in texture and instrumental colors) that enhance the dramatic motion of Donizetti’s music.


Este artículo fue publicado el 11/03/2010

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