L’incoronazione di Dario, Torino

I can’t remember the last time i bursted giggling out of control at the opera before. This production is just hilarious. Or you could say the storyline is, in combination with good acting. I’d refer the reader to three posts for the background plot and thoughts: (1) by Anik from 2013, _the_ introduction to this work for me, (2) Giulia’s review from several days ago, and (3) Dehggi’s review (whenever it comes in, she’s writing next to me.). This is a quick write-up on the staging idea and acting (and singing). (please excuse the grammar issues, run-on sentences, blah blah.. no time to check, we’re off for some more city touring 🙂 .)

Vivaldi L’incoronazione di Dario
Teatro Regio di Torino
Sara Mingardo: Statira
Delphine Galou: Argene
Lucia Cirillo: Oronte
Roberta Mameli: Alinda
Riccardo Novaro: Niceno
Carlo Allemano: Dario
Veronica Cangemi: Arpago
Ottavio Dantone conducting

I have to start with a short summary of the plot, because everything revolves around Statira, who is gullible and slow, to say gently, and yet by birth right seems to have everything going for her in term of (fake and true) love toward and title (princess, soon to be queen). Some samples of her reasoning include: “He was mean to me, but now he said he’s sorry, i believe him”, “you want my lips and hands? no thanks, that’s not love if you want to cut these off from me”, “your heart aches for me? how can it be that a heart can talk and ache?” All five other characters revolves around her, with the exception of the strong-minded and insistent Alinda. And all five of them have agenda, either the throne or to be the queen. With such a storyline, it can get a bit silly, have too much cariature or forced comedy. Not so in this production where they manage to keep everything light and fun with superb acting, especially from Mingardo and Galou.

Some of the most memorable scenes definitely involve Statira and Argene, Statira for being just out there in her la-la-la land (superbly acted) and Argene in her frustration and all the rebuff and failed schemes (also very well acted). Their comic timings are just off the chart. For Sara Mingardo in particular, her acting and on-point phrasing simply brings out the best in the character and the music. A prime example is in this scene, to the aria “Sentirò fra ramo e ramo”, pictured below, where yours truly risked giggling beyond control and disturbing the surrounding (which was also filled with giggling):

Sara Mingardo (Statira), Novaro (Niceno), Delphine Galou (Argene), Romina Tomasoni (Flora). © Ramella&Giannese


After many failed attempts, Argene (Delphine Galou) has decided it’s time to get rid of the sister (Statira, Mingardo), with the help of the two co-conspirators Niceno (Novaro) and Flora (Tomasoni). Statira, however, is “overwhelmed” with nature and the birds and repeatedly broke off her forced-exit, running back toward the audience to express how beaaautiful it is to hear the birds singing. S.Mingardo must be having a ball playing this role, mimicking the bird, returning the sound, listening, echoing, dancing, exchanging with the solo violin. One doesn’t want her to stop! (I was so (wrongly) disappointed when the B section ended and Niceno and Flora seemed to have dragged her off, but nope, you could hear her frantic footsteps as she waged the blue flowing dress running full semicircle round the staging back to the front to pick up the second A, just out there in staging idea and fun). Many other scenes worth mentioning including her recital of Niceno’s love poem (all touchy, then blurted out: this makes no sense, how can a heart speak?), or when she offered her hands to both Arpago and Oronte. Vocally, it was pure joy listening to Sara Mingardo in this work. Her solo aria to the solo viola da gamba aches with beauty. Her “L’occhio, il labbro, il seno, il core” was a nice mix of (honest yet nonsense) anger and great rhythm/tune, along with the wagging finger “na na na na, non fa per me”.

Carlo Allemano (Dario), Delphine Galou (Argene). ©Ramella&Giannese


In parallel with the “innocent” and slow Statira is Argene and her plots to take over. In a way, her character is a little bit more 1-dimensional. But perhaps during her time (whichever time this is) clever women were reduced to such? because it’s nearly impossible to understand how *EVERYBODY* was chasing after Statira. Sure, there’s the power hunger crowd, though we were unsure if, for example, Niceno was also after the throne? Being completely overlooked, she’s reduced to “draping” herself over Dario to seduce him (D.Galou is having a ball acting this, and Carlo Allemano is doing a great job being somehow “not” getting it), or when things go awry to pull out the gun and getting the whole army behind ready to shoot the whole kingdom into submission. In this staging, the ending did her a dis-service by reducing her great aria to an afterthought it feels. I would have liked it to be staged in a stronger scene than simply her pointed gun being disarmed very easily (Dario just walked up and took it, pfff), then everyone walked away as she collapsed “speaking” angrily to herself. There was an anouncement that Galou was sick yesterday, and probably it was this aria we felt it the most. Not in her very flexible coloratura run but in the power, as she was quite overpowered by the orchestra.

Of the other characters, Roberta Mameli’s Alinda has a couple of slow moving aria, with the last one while being hand-cuffed to be killed off was quite moving. Her tone is quite focused, and yet the voice is warm and quite expressive. I already remembered her well from Dalinda in Bucharest’s Ariodante and Nerone in L’incolorazione di Poppea. Pairing with her is Lucia Cirillo’s Oronte whose voice is also focused and descriptive. The two of them worked well together as a torn couple, all the way to the part when Oronte simply could not go through with killing her even if it means a (false) promise of the throne with/by Argene. Here L.Cirillo also did a nice job showing the human side of Oronte rather than flip/flopping on switch command.

Lucia Cirillo (Oronte), Roberta Mameli (Alinda). © Ramella&Giannese

Riccardo Novaro seemed to have a ball with the acting as well, love the little details of him running his fingers on the ground trying to touch Statira as the two of them sitting nearly side-by-side and Statira reciting his love poem to her
There was also some inconsistencies in his character: First he professed love to Statira, then was quick to join Argene’s team to break up the Dario-Statira couple (which makes sense if he’s really after Statira), and yet he was strangely quick to turn monster (attempted rape and kill?, he was growling while forcefully jumping on top of Statira) once finding himself alone with her in the woods. The character Flora, sung by Romina Tomasoni, is also a little bit 1-D, tilting where the wind blows. But one can understand her: if you don’t have power, better align yourself with those who you think can, especially if the one you’re serving is that slow and clueless. Dario played along well. One almost wonders who is slower between him and Statira. How did these people find each other in the first place?! The character that has the least thing to say seems to be Arpago, who, i would say even vocally, is not as strong, and scenically, even though supposed to be the head of the army, was quite quick to be kicked to the side and disarmed/dismissed.

Riccardo Novaro (Niceno), Sara Mingardo (Statira), © Ramella&Giannese

Vocally, since i was drooling at Sara Mingardo’s sound, we’ll keep it at that for now. Dehggi and I had a discussion, on how if we were talking about light, Sara Mingardo’s voice would warm a whole room whereas D.Galou’s would be along narrow beams. She has a really lovely tone but it is quite tight and most prone to being overpowered by the light orchestration Dantone ran. Though to be fair, she was also under the weather, so I can’t tell how she would sound in the house at full strength. I can really see why I love R. Mameli as Nerone in Poppea and remember her very well as Dalinda. Here she really had room to express on the rare single slow-burning aria. Dantone kept the orchestra very soft, never overpowering the singers (we experienced something in the complete opposite just 2 nights before in London so it was very pleasant to see how a knowledgeable conductor can take care of the singers while also carrying the music.) I can’t figure out if I didn’t pay as much attention to the orchestra, whether because the singers were superb, or whether the orchestra was playing its detailed way but not standing out to the point of taking away one’s attention. Either way, it was light, at times descriptive, but you spend more time enjoying the beautiful vocal lines and funny as hell silly staging.

Oh, a few last notes. As Giulia mentioned in her review, it is a warm touch in how Sara Mingardo portrayed Statira, in that she’s slow but has a good-heart nature. “Hit him but don’t hurt him too much” toward Niceno even though he nearly killed her just moment before, “he seems honest, is his offer a good deal? i’ll take it” to both Arpago and Oronte, putting Oronte and Alinda back together (it’s against her nature to see people sad it seems), or “let me handle it my way, he seems remorseful and seems to love me” to Dario. These flip/flops can be a bit too 1-D if you don’t take care to give the character a bit more depth. Was simply a joy to watch and listen. Honorable mention is the all-female entourage in trousers, and their various poses. Altogether, a greaat outing at the opera, and we can’t wait for a second round coming up in a few hours!

All-female entourage, exhibit #1. © Ramella&Giannese


All-female entourage, exhibit #2. © Ramella&Giannese

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ps– oh a complaint! the staging is too deep! there’s no point putting baroque singers that deep in when you have nearly 2 meter extra at the front before the orchestra!
ps2– but , the opera house staff is really sweat and relaxed.. we printed the wrong form for the tickets, but no problem, they printed the tix for you with a smile. ❤ .
ps3– oh, we saw two VERY HIGH TECH cameras filming it!!! fingers crossed for a TV broadcast or DVD!

squealinnnggg

photo for the week

Roberta Mameli (Alinda), Sara Mingardo (Statira), Lucia Cirillo (Oronte). Vivaldi’s L’incoronazione di Dario, Turin, Apr 2017. Photo credi: Ramella&Giannese

squealing. there’s a whole album of some 56 photos too, if you have fb. they all seem to have a ball. look so fun! Oh, there’s another contralto too:

Veronica Cangemi (Arpago, kneeling), Delphine Galou (Argene). Vivaldi’s L’incoronazione di Dario, Turin, Apr 2017. photo credit:Ramella&Giannese.

vietnamese watercress salad

zoom in of watercress salad with
beef

Another of my favorite vietnamese dishes. Instruction below courtesy of my sister-in-law, with a slight modification. I had to go shopping for olive oil, vinegar, and filet mignon for the first time in life too.. only because previously they have always been handled by little sister who either had the ingredients or used the former hausmate’s.

Ingredient:
1 bunch of watercress
1/5 to 1/4 kg of filet mignon
20 grape tomatoes
1 small white onion
3-4 garlic cloves
fish sauce 🙂
sugar
salt
extra virgin olive oil
vinegar
black pepper

Instruction:
1. Thinly slice the beef
2. marinate with some sugar (1 tsp), fish sauce (1 tbsp), black pepper, minced garlic for 1 hour
3. At high heat, stir fried the beef for about 1 minute, add white onion, turn off heat
4. remove meat from pan to prevent over cooking the beef.

Dressing: (this one I follow strictly her measurements… had to sort out those tsb and tbsp…
In a container: add
– 2 tsp sugar
– a tiny bit of salt
– 2 tbsp of vinegar
– 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
stir until all is well mixed.

Plate:
Put in the watercress, cut approximately 1/2 length of finger in length (we measure things with finger length in Vietnam), cut grape tomatoes in 1/2, put meat + white onion on top, then add dressing to taste.

First picture was from my sister 6 years ago. BElow is mine. super tasty!

radio broadcast alert

Edit2: Another Bach St Matthews Passion, this one from Budapest, with René Jacobs, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin, K.Hammarström, Saturday 15/Apr at 1730GMT , 1830 London, 1930 CET, 1330 EST.
In addition, there’s this one (video) from München on 12/April/2017 with Concerto Köln and Karina Gauvin. I quite like the sound of this more than the one from Rotterdam, but I think it’s the difference between having a baroque (here) versus modern (Rotterdam) orchestra? Also, this is quite a tighter group than what N. Stutzmann has. I found the sound there a bit “diffused” and some of the musical phrasing by the soloists “blurry”. It could just be what i’m “used” to hear, but i quite like the version from Munich. The “evangelist” and “Jesus” were quite focused in sound.
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Edit: for an informed note, please refer to Anik’s live experience of Vivaldi’s work in the form of a live concert. That concert resulted in a cd, which is also available on yt (very easily searchable by the work’s title.)
————-
Today, Thursday, 13.Apr.2017

1800 GMT, 2000 CET, 1400 EST
From Torino, Vivaldi’s L’incoronazione di Dario, with Mingardo and Galou, on (expected to be) suspicious quality Rai radio. link.

1730 GMT, 1930 CET, 1330 EST,
From Rotterdam, N. Stutzmann conducting Bach Matthews Passion. link.

2300 GMT 0100+1 CET 1900 EST,
From the MET, Rosenkavalier, with Garanca and Flemming. link.

Friday, 14.Apr.2017
1830 GMT
From Rome, Bach’s St. Johns Passion, with A.Hallenberg. link.

Sunday, 16.Apr.2017
0000 GMT (This means it’s Saturday night for us in the US)
From Boston, Mitsuko Uchida plays Mozart piano concerto No.20. link.

1800 GMT
From Chicago, V. Genaux’s Vivaldi, Porpora and Broschi recital. link. (But I’m confused.  She’s at Opera du Rhin now singing in Cavalli’s La Calisto.. so either she’s jetting over or this is likely a rebroadcast? ahh, ok, no no, Calisto won’t start until 26/apr, so this should be a live concert, i think.)

canh cà chua sườn

Highly motivated after watching Orphée, and determined to eat better to recover from this damn pollen season, i finally bought some ribs! (first time in life!) and wrestling them in the kitchen (first time too!) But there were precedent: little sister had visited 5 years ago to make one of the fav dishes, and on my trips to visit her during December last year as well as this past month, she made this soup again, so i kept close eyes on how to treat them ribs. So, here’s another fav soups of ours, which can be combined with noodles to make a noodle-soup dish out of it.

ingredients, to make 14L
– fish sauce
– 1,8kg baby back ribs
– 13 roma tomatoes
– 13 shallots , the biggish type
– scalions
– cilantro
– salt
– sugar
– black peppers

Preps:
1. start boiling a big pot of water
2. put the ribs (cut along eyes) into the 14L pot, marinate with fish-sauce, sugar (not sure how much, i put some, i actually didn’t have sugar at home!), black peppers, thin slices from 3 shallots, let sit until the other pot nearly boils.
3. put pot with ribs on high heat, stir occasionally, let the rib seared (should take 5min? 10min? took me sometimes to stir…)
4. pour the 1st pot of boiling water in, bring to boil
5. scoop out all the goey foams at surface
6. put in diced tomatoes + peeled shallots
7. It should boil for 45min total.. i have never cooked ribs so didn’t know they don’t float :D, and kept waiting for them to come to surface.. hence the tomatoes got overcooked a tiny bit

(have your sisters and sister-in-law on chat lines to verify various steps can be very helpful!)
8. marinate to taste with fish sauce, turn off stove, put in green scalions, as shown at top figure

9. boil thin rice noodles. My sister bought these from 5 years ago, i love them, hollow on the inside.

 

10. 1 serving: with scallions and cilantro.  yum. works very well with Thai chili peppers.

music for calmness

my absolute fav section of the entire dvd! i’ll need this to stay very calm and collect for the next 8 hours, to write the (*&#@)^%#@ report… wasted 7 hours last night.. and i have to re-start again now.. but it will be done! YES IT WILL. with VK’s floating notes, ahhhh.