Ultimately it's the music that resonated the most, while the theatrics — played out in a dichromatic set via mimetic interpretations of the libretto — filled in the gaps that awkward shuffling and transitional applause between segments are otherwise expected.
Hansen is a lover of chamber music, but is less enamoured with the traditional setting of chamber music performances. He writes in his director's notes, "Audiences understand they'll arrive to a venue and see chairs set out awaiting the musicians, organized along very standard and - let's just say it - totally uninspired, predictable placements so that the musicians can see and hear each other."
Rodolfo and Mimì shared what felt like a genuine chemistry. Sung by Welsh soprano Natalya Romaniw making her ENO debut, it was a subtle and heartfelt performance. There was something classic about her sound that I really loved. It was a true triumph. Musetta, sung by ENO Harewood Artist Nadine Benjamin, was unfortunately the weakest character for me.
Soprano Jessie Lyons went hardly unnoticed as Lucia, who spent most of her time on the winding stage, alongside Jonathan Zeng as Charles, whose charisma and stunning tenor voice required the attention of all attending. The audience also couldn't ignore Andrew Groble's thunderous baritone voice that was a delight for the ears, with additional support from Naomi Brigell emotional performance of the slowly deteriorating Genevieve.
I found Alden's production be be a challenging one. I think that's the nature of this piece. The subject matter is very dark and though I appreciate that it didn't shy away from depicting the violence done to Lucia, I was left unsatisfied with the way it was handled.
Kevin Lau's reconstruction of a variety of extracts from Handel's vast catalog of compositions struck a tottering balance between showcasing one of the most celebrated composers of the classical repertoire in its original form — and enticing a modern audience with the experimental synth-tracks, glitches and contortions available to the digital soundscape.
Ms. Karg reassured the audience that she had recently performed the two Debussy sets anchoring her program – for this year's centenary of his death – though never with pianist Simon Lepper (her usual collaborator, the eminent Gerold Huber, was booked). Ms. Karg and Mr. Lepper had never shared the stage before Tuesday night.
But I was completely captivated by Ferruccio Furlanetto's Fiesco. He was the aged, revenge-hungry villain whilst still being able to inspire pity. And though it was a voice approaching the end of a long career, he had such a commanding and assured presence on stage that one couldn't help but be carried along with him.
Although this iteration seems to be much more of a display of the the transformation of the score in particular, I did miss the theatricality of the original staging. I missed the solitary cells, the cold ambiance, the interrogations by the state.
The performance was something truly special and memorable. Last night, I understood what it must have been like to have heard the likes of Pavarotti, Milnes, Horne, and Sutherland. Just as those artists had defined the canonic Verdi roles for their generation, the cast of this Trovatore at LOC is poised to set a new standard for this repertoire.