11 February 2009

Recession special: three giants on stage for $15

Cilea ADRIANA LECOUVREUR, Met 10.II.2009; c. Armiliato; Guleghina, Borodina, Domingo, Frontali.

Rush review: in his slow decline, Placido Domingo can still convene a worldclass performance. A bounty of audience goodwill goes a long way, of course. His tours above the staff are understandably calculated, with some top notes on the verge of faltering, but with Domingo there is never fear of total meltdown (cf. Villazon). Thus, no matter how arduous it seems for him to scale the heights these days, the audience never feels uncomfortable or burdened. A true wonder that it's his 40th year at the Met. In the style department, he remains unmatched, bailing out this artless opera with rare elegance. Nothing he can do with his Adriana, however. Maria Guleghina is always the show within the show. Her elements were present: extraterrestrial sound, massive resonance, diminuendos galore, crystal pianos, and stage deportment matched only by her big feet. Too dominant, she's always Maria and never the role, and we've all learned to love her that way. During her duets with Domingo, I imagined instead another scene involving incestuous twins, and just how grand it could be. Why the f*ck doesn't she move onto Wagner already. I'd forsake pork shoulder for one her "Rache! Tod! Tod uns beiden!" I mean, really. The highlight of the evening, of course, was the bitch slap with Olga Borodina (who was stellar, by the way). They turned it way on, I swear they looked like they were going to burst out laughing. Forget Cilea, forget Adriana: it was Ukraine vs. Russia. All the queens went home happy.