Bologna, on June 3rd for the penultimate title of the 2022 Opera Season, Verdi’s Luisa Miller, tragic melodrama in three acts on a libretto by Salvadore Cammarano, based on Kabale und Liebe (Intrigue and Love) by Friedrich Schiller, back on the stage of this theater after 30 years. It’s the story of three young people, in love, whose lives are ruined by the choices of their parents, with magnificent music which requires a proficient singing cast & deserves a mise en scène just as beautiful.
The staging by marionanni (nickname of Mario Nanni) is more of a mise en espace based on light installations in which the artist is specialised, which transforms the new production of Teatro Comunale di Bologna kind of into a semi-staged performace. Not disturbing, nor interesting. There is almost no direction, but lots of free initiative in an orderly entering, positioning, interaction and exiting of the artists on the stage. Neither the costumes’ choice made sense to me: they varied from Luisa’s long white dress, to Federica’s ‘20-‘30 black evening gown, to Wurm’s dark cape with large hood. The only idea that was contoured was the symbolism of Walters scepte in the conflict between generations. One could have only focused on the beauty of the Verdian score.
GREGORY KUNDE is a legends that doesn’t show his age (68 years old!). His voice’s squillo, range, articulation, phrasing, flexibility – it’s all there, well preserved in time, just as his charisma. Impressive his high C at the end of “L’ara o l’avello apprestami”. Therefore, his Rodolfo sounds young, as the score demands, and is a complex, authentic character, despite that the staging doesn’t particularly help anyone on stage.
The soprano in the first cast was MYRTÒ PAPATANASIU. The Greek soprano seemed tired and her voice is rather unbalanced, at least according to the first performance of this production. The first octave is quite weak, but the voice gets fuller as the vocal line goes towards the high register, which is, though, a bit tensed and at its limits. That’s why, maybe, the highest note in the final of “La tomba è un letto sparso di fiori” was removed. She’s intelligent and owns a large pallet of nuances of her voice, that she uses righteously in different moments of the opera. All in all, considering also her worth-mentioning acting skills and stature, she had a good performance.
MARKO MIMICA is still very young, but extremely promising in this repertoire, due to the fact that he reached the expressive maturity and the full knowledge upon the possibilities of his instrument, combine with a more than pleasant stage presence.
FRANCESCO VASSALLO, Miller, has an important voice, that sometimes he doesn’t use in the best manner and neither serves the nature of the character, a loving father. The audience applauded lastly both after his aria in the first act and at the final curtain call, which means that the Milanese baritone conquered the Bolognese public anyway. Less would have probably been more in his case.
MARTINA BELLI, an elegant and sensual Federica, managed to overcome the difficult vocalisation in the end of the recitative before “Dell’aule raggianti”. A noteworthy presence on stage, without any doubt, as always.
GABRIELE SAGONA performed well the role of Wurm, presenting a beautiful dark timbre and intelligent phrasing in his small, but important part.
VETA PILIPENKO replaced Eleonora Filipponi as Laura and was noted for her beautiful, mellow timbre even in this small part. The cast was successfully completed by HARUO KAWAKAMI, student of Scuola dell’Opera del Teatro Comunale di Bologna.
DANIEL OREN is back at Teatro Comunale after Tosca, in January. Luisa Miller suits better his style of conducting and quite manages to move us in certain moments of the score. Under his baton, the orchestra of Teatro Comunale di Bologna and its choir performed well.
Nothing to add about this “production”, in conclusion. I’d probably not go to see it twice. As for the singing cast, the well deserved success increases the expectations for the next production, Otello, once again with Kunde in the leading role.