RODERIC DUNNETT raves about Chisinau National Opera's
'Cavalleria Rusticana' and 'Pagliacci'
<< Continued from yesterday
The Chisinau oboes had a magnificent evening -- the gorgeous counterpointing
to Lola's love ditty in the last scene of Cavalleria Rusticana, for
instance (as also Silvio's aria plus much of the Harlequinade in Pagliacci);
so too the viola accompaniment to Lola (Liliana Lavric) after the (here)
vivid drinking songs and Alfio's outraged outburst. The opera's close --
there is a danger of a hasty anticlimax -- was as well handled as the start
: the girl's offstage cry, her distraught appearance onstage, the dignified
pacing of the chorus exit, and a fine final tableau of Santuzza, Mamma Lucia
and the girl at the close, beautifully characterised by the orchestra under
If Cav was a marked success, Pagliacci (The Clowns),
with a totally different set of principals, was a triumph. It featured two
of the most seasoned male stars of the Chisinau Opera, the Scarpia and Cavaradossi
of their recent Tosca.
Mihai Munteanu, the Canio -- a prizewinner at La Scala in the l970s and
former Director General of the Chisinau Opera -- has the ability to spook
you almost without trying. The face, an open and closed book at the same
time, is fascinating. There was something -- even beyond Leoncavallo's own
script, steeped in genius -- which made this Canio's philosophising ('e meglio
fingere per riuscire') dangerously, inveterately, almost atavistically evil.
His soliloquy 'Put on your costume and your clown's white face', prefaced
by viola and double bass musings, was mesmerising. Munteanu's Canio is a
character from Chabrol, somehow warming to the challenge, and constantly
whetting the knife in anticipation of turning it. His first cameo, to which
the orchestra rose splendidly, was awesome. The seething undercurrent issued
in ruthless overtones -- not just vengeance, but the pleasure of it : cruelty
became an imperative.
Copyright © 11 February 2001
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
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