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!

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.

radio alert

for the rest of this week, including one already past but still can be re-listened:

1. Joyce Didonato & Patrizia Ciofi in “I capuleti e i montecchi” from Liceu, live 20.May.2016, entire broadcast can be re-listened here.
2. Thursday 26.May.2016, 1700h GMT, 1300h EST, Mozart Mass in C Minor with Il Giardino Armonico
3. Sunday 29.May.2016, 1830h GMT, 1430 EST, Sara Mingardo singing Pergolesi, Vivaldi, etc., with the Accademia degli Astrusi. Given that it’s the Accademia degli Astrusi, hopefully they will record their own concert and post on their youtube channel because the broadcast via Rai3 is going to be crap! When will they ever improve the bandwidth, we’re already in 2016 and they still have technology from floppy-disk age or something, argh.
4. Tuesday, 31.May.2016, 1800h GMT, 1400 EST, Händel’s Israel in Egypt from Amsterdam with Richard Egarr . I have heard this piece live only once but it left a hugely positive impression.

Back to item #3 above for a moment: I’m very much looking forward (even with crappy quality): She is singing:

PERGOLESI: ‘Salve Regina‘ in F minor for contralto, strings and basso continuo.
GALUPPI: ‘A rupe alpestri’ Aria for contralto, strings and basso continuo.
VIVALDI: ‘Cessate omai cessate‘ Cantata for contralto, string and basso continuo RV 684.

For those unfamiliar, do check on some of the links (videos from Wigmore Hall and some intimate church)! with “Cessate omai cessate” excerpt below and entire playlist here. I can’t wait!! The only Galuppi’s piece I know with her singing is “La Scusa” which I absolutely love, but “A rupe alpestri” will be a new one.

Vagaus triumphans

Amanda Forsythe made a triumphant return to Jordan Hall last night, delivering a world-class level “Armatae Face, Et Anguibus” that brought the house down. It was impressive. I sat there grinning at the luxury of having experienced *that* live while my friend rave about the amazing momentum she built and interaction with the orchestra to strengthen the ramping up of tension. (So this is the right place to mention she will be here again with a baroque band for a recital that i would miss (GRRRRRR), but i was very sure to pass on the information to my friend who is very enthusiastic to learn more, if she can get a ticket.)

But before “Armatae Face..”, she was already hogging the stage with her recitative phrasing and “communicative” skill. This is a very short write-up of my experience hearing Vivaldi “Juditha Triumphans” live for the first time.
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music to start night shift

need some music to get out of bed 😀

i have a meeting at 2pm this week and still unsure if i need to shove forward so as to still be awake at 2pm by Wed or fall backward so as to wake up before 2pm.. there’s also this business of making sure to wake up either before midnight when shops still open or shop before midnight to make sure waking up at 5am with some food.. Finally the complication of boba milktea only available *after* 12.30pm!!

On plate for tonight: may be Arabella.. though I must admit every time the play button was hit on above clip i ended up sitting for 2 hours non-stop.. can’t wait for boston baroque’s take in Oct.

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(ps- Stray, this is my not so subtle attempt to infiltrate you with this piece to ensure memorization by heart by Oct 😉 )

contralto through the night

juditha_venise

A bit late… i knew about this broadcast already last month but was up North. Click on the image to go directly to cuturebox, (s)he clocks in at either 17.30 if you like to hear the recit, else jump directly to the aria (and some swagger) starting at 18.25 .

music to start the weekend

my headset broke again last week.. so i picked up this cool thing which arrived last night ready for some testing + new music:


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So, I’ve sat through 6+ hours of Cecilia Bartoli and have come to a conclusion: she can do _anything_ she wants with her voice! and she does EVERYTHING she wants with a purpose! the phrasing is absolutely intuitive! (from the listening point-of-view, haven’t watched any of these clips in details). Actually it sort of started when i sat through 3 of her albums 2 weeks ago. Think i’ve figured out, for her singing i really want a non-stop run instead of piece by piece to hear the entire range of emotions she can cover. Last night the new headset got the first test-drive with this piece** actually, which i and dehggial had a short conversation a bit back regarding “over the top” vs “not doing enough“. There’s always something in a clip that makes me wanting less or more, think it’s toward the end of this one.. which prompted me to search everything she sung in “Juditha Triumphans” (not much!!! WHY NOT???) and promptly listening to the ENTIRE recital in Paris <—- ABSOLUTELY GREAT, very much like!! afterward was “live in Italy” with “Mozart” (above) lurking in corner of eye, and here we are. VERY MUCH like her mozart here. 40-minute is too SHORT! Have some serious fighting with “eddies” and “tides” this weekend, superb conditions for long hours of listening on gorgeous headset (very clear + crisp sound) with lots to catch up.

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(ps- oh Stray, many thanks for clip from last saturday! i sat through Act 1 too, GReAT singing!!)

** to aide interpretation of “over-the-top” vs “not enough”, here’s the context of the aria:

The mood switches to renewed militancy as the Bethulians are called to renewed vigilance in Vagaus’s aria “Armatae face et anguibus,” a “rage” piece summoning images of snakes, “dread companions”, and violent death.

What did she do differently than Roberta Invernizzi? i can’t really tell except somehow it just *felt* right and that it works! 🙂 (how’s that for subjective + vague explanations, i once had a math prof who wrote an equation on the board and a solution! 1/2 of the 100-student class, myself included, raised our hands asking “how do you get that solution”?? he looked completely perplexed: “i just know it! if you don’t know… you’re not an engineer!”)

Edit: felt like this poor guy everytime this piece ends 😀 (was flying in my apartment night before, then some vicious wrestling from the cat overnight and outcome, poor thing)
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