10 June 2005

Violetta's Grandmother

Luisa Miller

Jens F. Laurson at ionarts, in a review of a recent Luisa Miller performance at Washington Concert Opera notes: "The opera itself divides opera lovers. Verdi fans will certainly appreciate most of it (and there are glorious moments in it), but the seams of this cobbled-together opera are very noticeable. The drama isn't all too compelling, and there might, after all, be a reason why it is not terribly often performed. If the singing is as good as it was at the Washington Concert Opera, it might be compelling... if the singing were any less than that, I suspect all but the most ardent Verdinites in the audience would be terribly bored by and throughout the third act." The boredom may come at this point only because it takes so long to get to the third act. To me (admittedly a Verdinite-in-training), the music in the third act is reason enough to hang around. The lyric Luisa is the proto-Violetta, the dramatic push around her in Act III anticipating many of the jewels of La Traviata (in particular, the towering Violetta-Germont scene of Act II, and then some of Violetta's slow fade in Act III). I feel Luisa Miller suffers only from a lack of a master's edit, the kind eminent in the Traviata score. But the Verdian tears, hints of the quietness of "Dite alla giovine" and ghosts of "Parigi o cara" are already there (in the Miller-Luisa and Rodolfo-Luisa scenes respectively), brooding, tugging the same old heartstrings.

EDIT [5:01pm]: I didn't mean to be rude and highlight things in what is otherwise a fine, agreeable JFL review of the D.C. Luisa Miller. His post took me to my CD shelves in search of my many Luisas, dusty but patient ladies-in-waiting to my prima Violettas. I devote my Friday afternoon and evening to this neglected Verdi, ever the wanna-be member of the formidable Rigoletto-Trovatore-Traviata trio. Currently playing, Renata Scotto as Luisa (Met, 1979).