Tuesday, June 12, 2012

DiDonato Bound

For our viewing pleasure last weekend, Mrs. Buce served up a DVD of Il Barbiere di Siviglia--the 2009 Covent Garden production.  It's a grand show; Mrs. Buce always gets short of breath at the sound of Juan Diego Flórez, here as Count Almaviva. We'd seen him do the role before in a DVD rom the Teatro Real de Madrid and he was dependably wonderful both times.

But the thing about the Covent Garden version is that I can't remember any before that succeeded quite so well as an ensemble piece, demonstrating that you really want five strong singers to make it all come together.

Covent Garden had its quintet, but I'd still have to concede that the hit of the evening was not Flórez nor Pietro Spagnoli in the title role. No, the palm goes to Joyce DiDonato as Rosina and never have I seen it played with such caged sexual energy. You see her for the first time through wrought-iron bars, as if in a cage, and she seems to be shaking the cage through the whole performance.

Not surprise, really. DiDonato has kind of a trade-mark on good-natured lust (watch her go three-in-a-bed with Flórez and Diana Damrau at the end of Le Comte Ory).

But perhaps you are ahead of me here. The clincher was that she'd broken her leg on the first night and had to do the rest of the run in a wheelchair. She spends the whole show whizzing back and forth across in front of the footlights like Monty Woolley in The Man Who Came to Dinner. All of which worked resoundingly to her advantage. As they say in the theatre--girl, break a leg. Sometimes it can be a good career move.

Here's a snippet from a promo for the fractured video:

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