Although Bartlett Sher’s Rigoletto premiered lower than a yr in the past, it feels prefer it’s been right here eternally. The monolithic revolving set and blandly flattering costumes scream “Met revival” (what Michael Mayer’s Vegas manufacturing screamed is an entire different query), and the much-discussed Weimar Konzept provides not a lot in any respect.
It due to this fact falls upon the singers to make one thing of the manufacturing—fortunately, final night time we had a starry array of Met debuts to offer a frisson of pleasure.
The principle purpose to see this revival is Benjamin Bernheim’s Duca. Over the previous few years Bernheim has steadily change into the lyric tenor of selection in Europe, and after I’ve heard him in Zurich and Vienna I’ve been impressed by the class of his singing. However how does that translate to a home the dimensions of the Met?
Fortunately, he greater than fulfils expectations—I’ve by no means heard him sound fairly so thrilling, filling the auditorium with burnished tone. The glory of his voice is his hovering higher register, with limitless reserves of energy. Nevertheless it’s within the softer moments that discover him at his most spectacular, with easy gruppeti and meltingly tender sound.
He’s not probably the most charismatic actor, and lacks the sting of hazard the character wants, however he has a beautiful sincerity that will go well with any romantic hero. Carry him again quickly—dare we ask for a brand new manufacturing of Faust?
Bernheim was partnered properly by Rosa Feola’s Gilda, a recognized amount from the premiere run. Although her lyric soprano is as delectable as ever, I obtained the sense that she is going to quickly outgrow the function—the stratospheric staccati of act one, by no means her explicit power, sounded much less snug this time round, and her excessive E flat comes out of sheer willpower at this level.
Nonetheless, she’s all the time been her greatest within the ultimate two acts, marrying ravishing tone with a determined vulnerability that remembers Cotrubas at her greatest—no straightforward feat.
Quinn Kelsey’s Rigoletto additionally returned from the premiere run, and is as soon as once more fulfils all the function’s calls for with out being really revelatory. He’s at his greatest in court docket scenes, snarling on the courtiers with actual chunk. However on the subject of Rigoletto’s huge moments, it’s not fairly sufficient—his straightforward legato and burnished, muscular tone needs to be supreme for “Cortigiani”, however it comes throughout as glorious singing with out being the second of catharsis it ought to.
The opposite main onstage debutante was Russian mezzo Aigul Akhmetshina, who made a splash leaping in as Carmen on the Royal Opera Home at age 21. Maddalena has change into a calling card function for her round Europe, and she or he actually has the plummy sound for the half.
It’s a bit small-scale for the Met, and her sound will get a bit misplaced within the quartet, however she vamps across the stage with such charisma that it nearly doesn’t matter. As her brother, John Relyea sounds higher than he has in years, providing inky sound and hulking sleaziness. Preserve an eye fixed out, as properly, for Brittany Renee, a Countess Ceprano of bizarre presence.
The ultimate debut of the night got here from the pit. Speranza Scappucci mixed dramatic aptitude and boundless vitality with scrupulous consideration to her singers, drawing some beautiful rubati from the orchestra. Her tendency to push the tempo was thrilling at occasions, bumpy in others—the hurtling pace of “Cortigiani” robbed it of its energy—however she has an actual really feel for Verdi’s music and will surely be an asset to the home sooner or later.