Grand Theater in Liceu
Stage direction: Jacopo Spirai (based on a project by Graham Vick)
February 9, 2024
Throughout his artistic life and from his fourth opera (I am a lombardi), Verdi had to fight for censorship to allow him to publish his works as he had conceived them. I Masked ball It occupies a place of dubious honor in that other dance of the stick with censorship, in this case Naples, the city that Rome has replaced when it comes to the premiere of a masterpiece like the one we are dealing with and which belongs to the last period of the Italian composer's creation.
He has now returned to the Liceu with a show from the Teatro Reggio in Parma which was the last project of Graham Vick, who died before his incarnation. His assistant Jacopo Spirai was responsible for its setting, with scenography and costumes by Richard Hudson, choreography by Virginia Spallarosa and lighting by Giuseppe Di Iorio. Overall, it can be said that the production adds nothing to the essence of Verdi's musical drama, and that it drinks from solutions already seen in many performances (not specifically by Vick). On the other hand, there is a lot of contradiction with the alleged novelty and unfortunate resources such as the theatrical movement of the main characters and the construction of characters (non-existent) or the completely funny one such as the end of the second act, with Amelia fiddling with the curtain so that Renato does not recognize her.
Before the moat of the Liceo, a specialist in this repertory like Riccardo Frezza defended with excellent arguments a score centered between the subtle lightness of the eighteenth century so brilliantly evoked by Verdi's painting and the intensity of tragedy. More than anything else, Frieza gave a masterful reading of the work, with an excellent performance by the orchestra.
There was some mismatch in the concert with the choir, no doubt due to the arrangement of the choral mass, located in a distant amphitheater with singers at the side ends. But in general, the choir's performance was satisfactory enough.
Liceu has managed to handle the first cast (without seeing the second). First-rate vocals, stylistically modified to suit Verdi's requirements. Freddie Di Tommaso is a powerful tenor, and although the middle register is not always stable enough, the trebles and trebles are very high and in a style that makes you think of the great generation of Italian tenors of the 1960s. The Extraordinary Amelia by Anna Peruzzi, with I will die but first in grace From an anthology and with a large dissemination of expressive resources. Artur Ruciński is a baritone with a short overhang and little timbre power, but expressed with the elegance and good taste befitting a Verdi baritone, which made Renato another of the evening's joys.
At these heights, Sarah Blanche's singing excellence is redundant, which is why we applaud her sensational Oscar, both for her vocal performance and for her stage performance. Daniela Barcelona, no longer at her best, defended the role of Ulrika with good counter-arguments, along with good secondary actors: Valeriano Lanchas (Samuel), Luis López Navarro (Tom) and others.
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