Written January 31, 2015
The Met had not staged this title in over 20 years, and for good reason. The libretto is so disjointed as to render the plot almost incomprehensible to those who don't already know the story. However, as our first time watching a live movie-theater broadcast of a Metropolitan opera, we were thrilled by the experience. The production, costuming and cast were wonders to behold. During intermissions, the camera is allowed behind the curtain for a fascinating look at the dismantling and rebuilding of the enormous sets, as well as interviews with those involved in the production. We now plan to see one of these every month.
Written November 28, 2014
Through out the three intermissions and afterward all I heard was: and there are touches of Strauss and Puccini and Mascagni. To me this sounds like there is nothing original in the piece. It was tedious musically. I didn't go home whistling anything!! Oh come on! Who doesn't like a bum-chuck Verdi tune to go home with? Theres's clearly a reason why this opera wasn't done at the Met for 30 years. Great singers, though, although the tenor was never my favorite.
Written October 07, 2015
For my taste, some pleasantly-Italianate vocal lines, but no really lasting-in-the-memory arias or melodies. Beautiful visuals, and the orchestra sounded lush in its interpretation under Armiliato. Giordani's voice, to my ear, is pretty "run-of-the-mill Italian tenor", nothing remarkable, and I felt he's a bit long in the tooth for the character of Paolo; not a very expressive actor either. Westbroek, on the other hand, over-acted Francesca to the point of appearing overly bipolar; vocally, however, she had the richness and strength that Zandonai gave to the role. Delavan, as Gianciotto, lacked enough threatening characterization and physical 'disability' that Ricordi's libretto seems to infer; and, while his vocal range demonstrated a warm depth, his vocal line needed better flow, IMO.
Written October 22, 2014
I love opera. I love the live in HD Met series which I usually find thoughtfully produced, stunningly staged, conducted brilliantly, vocally magnificent and acted superlatively. Oh God how I wish I could say these things about this opera. I walked out. A never before occurrence.
The reason this opera is performed rarely is because, frankly, there's not enough in it to devote the time or energy to staging it. Really bad. The first time I've experienced a truly over acted production. My favorite character was the husband - at least he seemed real! The attendants to Franceca were beautiful, sang well and laughed convincingly. Eva W (whom I loved in Wagner) and Marcello G just couldn't pull it of despite the great pit and fine conducitng. Shame on you Met!
Written May 05, 2015
We had never heard this work or the composer before, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The music was wonderful and the cast (despite the rather cool review by the New York Times' music critic) was sublime. We are traditionalists and we enjoyed the ancient staging. Spectacular describes the sets (like the old days).