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Mascagni, Cavalleria Rusticana and Leoncavallo,  I Pagliacci: Soloists, Orchestra and Choir Zürich Oper. Conductor: Stefano Ranzani. Opernhaus Zurich. 13.3.2011 (JMI)


Production Zurich Opera, coproduction with New National Theatre Tokyo

Direction: Grischa Asagaroff

Sets and Costumes: Luigi Perego

Lighting: Hans-Rudolf Kunz

Cast -  Cavalleria

Santuzza: Beatrice Uría-Monzón
Turiddu: José Cura
Alfio: Cheyne Davidson
Lola: Katharina Peetz
Mamma Lucia: Cornelia Kallisch

Cast  - Pagliacci

Canio: Jose Cura
Nedda: Fiorenza Cedolins
Tonio: Carlo Guelfi
Silvio: Gabriel Bermúdez
Beppe: Boiko Zvetanov

My visit to Zurich comes to an end with the traditional double bill of Cavalleria Rusticana & I Pagliacci in a very traditional production by Grischa Asagaroff that had its premiere in Zurich in 1996. Admittedly there isn’t a whole lot that can be done with these operas (or at least I’ve not yet seen it), since the librettos put things so unequivocally. There’s a semicircular stage for Cavalleria, with Mamma Lucia’s house on the left and the Church to the right, leaving a space in the middle where the action, set some time in the kitschy 50s, takes place. The same stage, minus the church, serves Pagliacci... adding a small theatre for the Canio troupe in the middle: Altogether traditional and uninteresting.

This performance was the first revival this season and I got the impression that it was rather under-rehearsed. Stefano Ranzani offered a very bland reading, particularly in the first half of Cavalleria and in the second act of Pagliacci. The orchestra and chorus were far below what they have offered on previous occasions and there were numerous problems of coordination between stage and pit.

José Cura was both Turiddu and Canio and he gave a compelling stage—but uneven vocal -  performance.  Turiddu especially is rather tight for him nowadays, while Canio suits him much better.

French mezzo soprano Beatrice Uría-Monzón’s Santuzza turned in credible acting and accomplished-but-modest singing. Baritone Cheyne Davidson is a Zurich regular but did not shine as Alfio. Fiorenza Cedolins is not the great soprano she was a few years ago... her voice being considerably smaller now than I remember it. In combination with her regained shapely figure the former Cedolins would have been an stirring proposition, as it was, her Nedda was not exciting. Still that didn’t compare to Carlo Guelfi (Tonio) who is just a shade of his former self, with a wide vibrato throughout the high register.

Silvio was sung by Gabriel Bermúdez, who has a body with worthy of an acrobat. If  the size of his voice matched his muscles, he’d be an exceptional baritone, singing—as he does—with expressively and with much taste.

José Mª Irurzun


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