France Prokofiev: Betrothal in a Monastery, Capitole Orchestra and Chorus, Tugan Sokhiev (conductor), Théâtre du Capitole, Toulouse, 24.5.2015 (JMI)
Don Jerome: John Graham Hall
Don Ferdinand: Garry Magee
Louisa: Anastasia Kalagina
The Duenna: Elena Sommer
Don Antonio: Daniil Shtoda
Donna Clara: Anna Kiknadze
Mendoza: Mikhail Kolelishvili
Don Carlos: Vladimir Kapshuk
Father Augustin: Alexander Teliga
Father Eustaphe: Vasily Efimov
Father Chartreuse: Marek Kalbus
Father Benedictine: Thomas Dear
Lauretta: Chloè Chaume
Rosina: Catherine Alcoverro
Production: Théâtre du Capitole and Opéra Comique
Direction: Martin Duncan
Sets and Costumes: Alison Chitty
Lighting: Paul Pyant
This Prokofiev opera has returned to the Capitole some four years after it was last performed here. The staging was the same, as were many of the cast members, and Tugan Sokhiev was again in the pit. I reviewed this production in January 2011, and much of what I wrote then still holds true.
Since September 2008, Tugan Sokhiev has been the music director of the Orchestre National du Capitole. His work in recent years has been splendid, and he can be considered one of the most brilliant conductors today, especially in the Russian repertoire. His reading of Betrothal in a Monastery was superb, as it was in 2011. I’ve had the occasion to see this opera under the baton of Valery Gergiev, and I think that Mr. Sokhiev’s conducting was as outstanding as his compatriot’s. The only complaint one can make about Tugan Sokhiev is his choice of vocalists, drawn largely from the singers who appear in his concert versions of Russian operas. Under his baton, the orchestra offered a terrific performance. In fact, this orchestra is one of the best one can hear today in a pit. The chorus was also impressive.
The best vocal performances came from Mikahil Kolelishvili and mezzo soprano Anna Kiknadze, who were both repeating their roles of four years ago. Mr. Kolelishvili was an amusing Mendoza, with a wide and attractive voice that suited the demands of the character. Mrs. Kiknadze gave life to Clara de Almansa, and with her well-handled voice was fully convincing in the character.
Mezzo soprano Elena Sommer as the Duenna had to deal with the difficult task of overcoming the memory of Larissa Diadkova in the role four years ago. Ms. Sommer was quite good on stage but more modest in vocal terms.
British tenor John Graham Hall was a confident actor on stage in the part of Don Jerome, but somewhat modest vocally. Russian soprano Anastasia Kalagina played the character of Louisa, as she did last time. She is comfortable in the role, although her voice is not too appealing. The young male lovers, Daniil Shtoda (Antonio) and Garry Magee (Fernando), repeated their modest performances of 2011. Vladimir Kapshuk was a serviceable Don Carlos.
With regard to the monks, I should mention the voice of Alexander Teliga as Father Augustine, the Prior of the Convent. Tenor Vasily Efimov doubled as First Mask in Act I and as Father Eustaphe, and he again demonstrated comic skills and a well-projected voice.
José Mª Irurzun