A New Production of Verdi’s Il corsaro Takes the Stage in Valencia

06/04/2018

Verdi, Il corsaro: Generalitat Valenciana Chorus, Comunitat Valenciana Orchestra / Fabio Biondi (conductor), Palau de Les Arts, Valencia, 5.4.2018. (JMI)

Il corsaro © M. Lorenzo and M. Ponce

Il corsaro © M. Lorenzo and M. Ponce

Cast:
Corrado – Michael Fabiano
Gulnara – Oksana Dyka
Seid – Vito Priante
Medora – Kristina Mkhitaryan
Giovanni – Evgeny Stavinsky

Production:
Director – Nicola Raab
Sets and Costumes – George Souglides
Lighting – David Debrinay

It must be said that Il corsaro is not one of Giuseppe Verdi’s strongest operas, nor is it among the best work from what he referred to as his galley-slave years. In order for a production of Il corsaro to succeed, all the elements that make up an opera performance must work perfectly. Unfortunately, this was not the case in Valencia. The Palau de Les Art commissioned a new production by Nicola Raab, who had previously done Thaïs here with Plácido Domingo, and it is all rather confusing.

Ms. Raab begins with the huge success that Lord Byron enjoyed in 1814 at the publication of his poem ‘The Corsair’, in which there are some autobiographical aspects. The protagonist in this staging is none other than Lord Byron himself, who takes the form of Corrado, the Corsair, and the events in the production spring from the poet’s memories and imagination.

For my taste, the stage direction is inadequate, and the movements of the chorus are particularly confused. The actors lack direction as well and, to a large extent, seem abandoned on stage. The sets are quite simple, and the costumes are generally appropriate.

Fabio Biondi, one of the two musical directors of Les Arts, is best known for his work in Baroque music, of which he has given outstanding performances in the past. His Verdi, however, lacked nuance and was much too noisy, mainly due to his decision to raise the height of the pit. It makes sense that the pit be raised for Baroque operas, but the size of the orchestra in Verdi’s operas makes it unnecessary – unless one wants to turn the orchestra into the main protagonist. The orchestra was very good, as it usually is here, but the chorus wasn’t especially notable.

The performance of the singers seems to have been affected by the raising of the orchestra pit – in all cases there was an excess of open sounds. I expect that the singers were aware that the barrier they had to surmount was bigger than usual.

Corrado/Lord Byron was played by tenor Michael Fabiano, from whom I was expecting more. He is an excellent singer who usually pays attention to nuances, but this time there were more open sounds than is usual with him.

I had last heard soprano Oksana Dyka some six years ago, and in this house. Her voice seems to have lost quality, and she continues to offer more decibels than pure singing.

Baritone Vito Priante was Seid, and his voice does not really respond to the demands of the character. It is somewhat light and short on nobility, and he forces it on occasion.

Perhaps the best of the performance of the night came from soprano Kristina Mkhitaryan in the part of Medora. Her voice is appealing, and she sings with gusto, even if the production did not help her. In the secondary characters, the best was Evgeny Stavinsky as Giovanni.

José M. Irurzun

Comments

Comments

  1. TO: José Irurzun, Thanks for your review of “Il corsaro.” We arranged for an impromptu live screening in a movie theater of the performance via OperaVision on Sunday (we are 8 hours behind Central Europe, so we started at noon). This is a rarely performed Verdi, so for most of us it was the first and probably only time to see it. Michael Fabiano has followers in Santa Fe (he was an apprentice singer and then returned to sing Alfred in the main stage production in 2013 – and charmed the audience with his ardent singing with his almost old-fashioned Verdi tenor sound). We appreciated your view and you were right, it was a very confusing production because the direction was very lame. But, we liked the music, singing, and orchestra. From our perch (electronically transmitted via internet), nothing sounded as good as it does in real performance, but the impact of seeing it on a big movie screen certainly compensated, and we all loved the experience! We thank OperaVision, Opera Europa, and EC for their support of opera as important art form.

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Sergei Polunin and Friends at London Palladium 28 May – 1 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Elgar Festival in Worcester from 30 May to 2 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! YOUNG RUSSIAN PIANIST ALEXANDRA DOVGAN TALKS TO GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month