23 October 2007

Late edition: Maria Gavrilova

Puccini MADAMA BUTTERFLY, Met 19.X.2007; c. Elder; Gavrilova (d), Alagna, Zifchak, Salsi.

Rude of me to skip out of blogging, but been travelling up and down the country the past few days--but here's the gist: heart sank immeasurably upon seeing the lobby announcement that Maria Gavrilova (who?) was taking over for an ill Patricia Racette (overheard: she better be more than "ill"); sagging heart brought back to vigor upon the first notes of Butterfly's entrance, sung from Amsterdam Avenue, soaring to plaza fountain and beyond; Gavrilova ought to be covering Isolde and Sieglinde this season as well, with that terrifying sound; soprano in the usual two-tier mode: mostly plain yet still accomplished lower middle and chest, but once above the staff, cutting and rich and absolutely Turandific; a formidable sonic presence in the Guleghina tradition, yet brimming in emotion and sensuality; her Butterfly a thorough interpretation, actually more italianate than Racette; a (refreshingly) wide girl, in the quaint tradition of big-voiced sopranos: Bobbie Alagna's refusal to carry her off downstage at the end of Act I perfectly understandable.

Thus did Maria Gavrilova, in her Met debut, fill in for a success successfully. My partner confessed to being moved to tears. Despite having seen this thing a gabazillion times before, I was quite misty-eyed too. I once again give great credit to Maestro Mark Elder, who has continued to display complete mastery of this deceptively complex Puccini, which tends to either sag or melt into a saccharine creampuff under less thoughtful leadership. No hesitation to declare that this is among the best conducting jobs I've seen at the Met in many years. Bravo Maestro, brava Gavrilova!