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#6447 - 01/19/13 05:07 PM Opera 6
Kay Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 17046
Loc: Roanoke, VA , USA
Wow....just wow...Di Donato blew me away and Elza van den Heever as Elisabetta was, well, wow again.

And the music! Why on earth isn't this one performed more often...it is SO much better than that loopy Lucia...
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#6448 - 01/19/13 05:08 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Kay]
Kay Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 17046
Loc: Roanoke, VA , USA
Should have mentioned it was the simulcast of Maria Stuarda, I guess...
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#6449 - 01/19/13 09:48 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Kay]
Lorna Offline
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Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 2676
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
I was so stunned by Elisabetta's appearance that I really had to concentrate to listen to her. I understand she was made up to look like an aging kewpie doll to make Maria in her pilgrim-like dress look good by contrast, but the result was just too grotesque for words. And van der Heever walks like a hippopotamus.

DiDonato was superb, wasn't she? That was a very special kind of singing, and I loved every note of it. But I can't agree Maria Stuarda is a better opera than Lucia.

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#6450 - 01/19/13 10:30 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Kay]
Kay Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 17046
Loc: Roanoke, VA , USA
Elisabetta's walk was weird...although I think the makeup was probably on target...the aging Elizabeth did look pretty grotesque I think...Glenda Jackson's portrayal in the miniseries was grotesque too.

At the time of her death, Mary was 42 and Elizabeth was 10 years older...and in those days that was a lot older than we'd think of it now.
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#6451 - 01/20/13 03:58 AM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Kay]
Barbara Offline
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Registered: 04/24/99
Posts: 13033
Loc: Citrus Heights, CA , US
Elizabeth's make-up and costumes were clownish. Too much, over the top, bizarre. I think one reason the set had only open exits and entrances was that Elizabeth's extra-wide dresses could never get through a doorway. Did you know Elza van den Heever actually shaved her head for the role?! She's a brave woman, letting herself be seen looking so freakish. But none of that explains her gallumphing walk.

The opera itself was just melody after melody after melody -- it never stopped. And all of it was paired with downright ridiculous words. I know it's easy to make fun of opera libretti, but this libretto was just cornball melodrama. Enter Joyce DiDonato to the rescue: she sang every phrase with such nuance that she gave dignity to the whole production. Long sustained phrases, delicate precision...she was wonderful. I'm glad I didn't miss this.

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#6453 - 01/20/13 12:52 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Lorna]
Christopher Offline
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Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
Originally Posted By: Lorna
And van der Heever walks like a hippopotamus.

How does a hippopotamus walk?

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#6454 - 01/20/13 01:35 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Christopher]
Lorna Offline
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Registered: 04/22/05
Posts: 2676
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
Shifting weight from side to side with every step. It's not exactly regal.

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#6456 - 01/20/13 04:16 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Lorna]
Christopher Offline
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Registered: 07/02/02
Posts: 3558
A waddle, then. A waddling queen. Nope, doesn't sound right.

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#6465 - 01/21/13 10:28 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Kay]
Kay Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 17046
Loc: Roanoke, VA , USA
Definitely a waddle...and they discussed the shaven head during intermission...

But,oh, the music was glorious. My opera buddy and I were wondering why this one, which neither of us had heard before, doesn't get the play that Lucia does...maybe not quite as showy as the Mad Scene, but such beautiful and dramatic arias.
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#6480 - 01/24/13 01:04 PM Re: Opera 6 [Re: Kay]
Jon Offline


Registered: 04/25/99
Posts: 6422
Loc: Newark, Delaware, USA
Reading between the lines (from interviews, her intermission feature at Les Troyens, her past reviews, etc.), I'm surmising that Elza van den Heever found this Elizabeth a stretch dramatically, having generally played "nice girls" in her still-young career ("sweet," as she said), and ultimately resorted to extreme measures (no doubt with the director's collusion or suggestion): the shaved head, the imitation-Bette-Davis swagger in the walk. And it sounds like she didn't succeed in making the latter her own.

Kay, as I'm sure you know as a longtime operagoer, for the first half of the 20th century the "serious Donizetti" was an ignored repertory. Lucia was the sole exception as certain star sopranos found it (after some adaptations) a congenial vehicle, but otherwise the common "wisdom" was that Donizetti's style was suited only to comedy; I remember reading exactly this in a midcentury history of opera. The exploration of this literature that gained force in the 1950s changed this situation, but operas like this one are still laboring to gain some familiarty.

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