Kursaal Auditorium . 11 August 2013.
The Quincena Musical Donostiarra remains faithful to its operatic appointment, although in recent years it has not programmed but a single title. This year the chosen was Giuseppe Verdi’s La Traviata in a production that has managed to bring together the economic efforts of no less than 5 Spanish theaters: the festivals of El Escorial and San Sebastián, in addition to the regular seasons of the theatres of Oviedo, Pamplona and Cordoba. It is encouraging that in these difficult times for the Spanish lyrical theatres join forces, regardless of the greater or lesser quality of the entertainment offering. Indeed, that is the right way and good is that they are practical results of the meetings of Opera XXI.
The Asturian Susana Gómez and her team are fully present in the Spanish Opera summer. If the last month they premiered this production at El Escorial and a few days ago showed in her Norma in Perelada, now come to San Sebastian. It will be in next autumn and winter when her work reach other theaters mentioned above.
The scenic work of the Asturian not far beyond efficiency, and may qualify the production as a minimalist, onstage (Antonio López Fraga) surrounded by walls of translucent plastic, to which are added a few elements of props (a table and a lounge chair), giving priority to efficiency and cost on the brilliance. The costumes (Gabriela Salaverri) seems to respond to more or less present and is somewhat monotonous, because the choir will always dress the same, no matter they are choirs of Gypsy, bullfighters, parties of violet or Flora, or the pure Carnival. Alfonso Malanda lighting fulfills its mission, although it is not very imaginative.The stage direction is fairly traditional, narrating the story well. The less got production is the development of choirs of Gypsies and bullfighters, still interesting detail that Germont tries to buy with money the will of violet. It is a production that does not bother, passing without penalty or glory.
The conduction of the Italian Pietro Rizzo had positive aspects and others, not so much. I found a direction sensitive and controlled in many moments, obtaining a remarkable feature of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Euskadi, which improved its other performances in pit. Older teacher’s problems came in the moments that accelerated the times, then emerging some breakdowns in the scene. I am not against living times, but I think that there was excess of precipitation by the baton on some occasions. Also I find it criticised the fact that the cabalettas didn’t have repetition and even more that the aria Addio del passato is liquidated with a single verse. As I said, lights and shadows. It should be noted the good delivery of the Easo Choir
Last month I wrote about La Traviata in Munich and made reference to the difficulties that a soprano can successfully address very different writing of Verdi in three acts of the opera. Something like I would have to write on this occasion and referred to Desirée Rancatore. Altogether it was a more or less convincing violet, which offered in the first Act, where shone in Sempre libera, without missing the overacute E. The fact that her voice has evolved in recent years allows her to face quite well the scene with father Germont, though it falls short in Amami Alfredo, for which lacks of breadth and volume. Where less vocally convincing is, although she does well in scene, is in the last act, for which a larger voice is missing to be able to move.
José Bros was a convincing Alfredo, offering the most interesting vocally representation. The timbre of the catalan tenor is not of the taste of all the fans, but his phrasing and his diction are always elegant and even beyond reproach. On this occasion he has rectified some errors in previous occasions, which has contributed that he has not tarnish
his outstanding qualities to which I have just referred. He omitted the acute that used to insert in the inner of the first Act, as well as of the end of the cabaletta for the second. Taking into account past experiences, it seems a smart turn decision, since these notes – having them – were only devaluating his global service. It is assumed that Pollione in Perelada experience a few days ago has been positive to draw conclusions.
While Angel Odena was singing the part of father Germont, I did not other thing but wonder what is the need of this singer to demonstrate that he has a large and well ring voice. Òdena has never had the slightest problem to get his voice to the public, but he seems intent on not to notice. There are not many voices like his in the sad panorama of current baritones and it shows immediately, no needing fanfare, which do not serve but to tarnish a performance. When collecting the voice, things were much better. If I was his teacher, I would force him to listen continuously as Renato Bruson sang this character, when it was already close to reaching the age of 70. If Odena moderate his impulses and matisizes his song it could be a Verdi baritone of long-haul.
The secondary characters we had Pila Vazquez, who made a good Flora, although with a little sexy voice. Marta Ubieta served well as Annina. Miguel Angel Zapater was a Doctor Grenvil adequate in the last act and quite deficient in the first. The other characters were adequately covered by Albert Casals (Gastone), Fernando Latorre (Douphol) and Damián del Castillo (Obigny).
The Kursaal offered a packed auditorium. The public showed warm during the representation, devoting a good welcome to artists, especially the three protagonists of the opera.
Representation began 5 minutes late and lasted for 2 hours and 28 minutes, including an intermission. The musical duration was 2 hours. The final applause lasted for 7 minutes.
The price of the most expensive tickets was 94 euros. On the highest floor prices ranged between 48 and 75 euros. It is a good value for money. Last La Traviata in the Basque country was not better that this and the prices were nearly double.
Jose M. Irurzun
Traducción: María Garcia-Rosado