<< -- 3 -- Roderic Dunnett MOLDOVAN MAGIC
And like Racovita, Materinco is still young by operatic standards. Flitting
around like a particularly ugly Charles Laughton ('I know my deformity disgusts
you but I too have feelings' -- a kind of ostensibly harmless echo of Canio's
ominous 'The clown too is a man'), this Tonio had heart, yet also the sinisterness
of a sly 12 year old, the sting of an annoyed wasp, the venom of a plotting
spider; yet -- despite the chancing assault -- feels too canny for the 'bestiality'
Nedda attributes to him ('your mind is as filthy as your body') : rather,
an Iago, a Scarpia played buffo : playful, awesome and terrifying.
Moscow's State Circus lives on, just. Three Moldovan clowns led by the
Moscow trained Ion Stanca produced some hysterically original turns -- a
show in itself, and, like the efficient surtitles, a feather in Ellen Kent's
cap (their act were less striking in Act II of La Bohème).
The Silvio, Yuri Gisca, was not so good -- it's the weakest-sketched role
anyway -- and Nedda's first aria, not helped by one of the violins' off-moments,
was well received, but rendered uneven by a not too well controlled fast
vibrato. The choruses throughout were phenomenally strong. There are numerous
Wagnerian echoes in Pagliacci (quite apart from the through-composed
structure), even though Leoncavallo had nominally shed his youthful Wagner
enthusiasm; the brilliantly played two flutes, for instance, sound curiously
The Harlequin costumes were as vividly dazzling as if they were were
from a brand new Punch and Judy show, and the frozen tableau of the
troupe of five (Canio/Pagliaccio centrestage, icy, Materinco's red mop-headed
Tonio gaunt overhead, three facing, two rotated right -- a brilliantly simple
piece of asymmetric stage blocking) was the kind of touch that made this
worthy of the London stage.
Copyright © 11 February 2001
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
& Vision home
Julian Dawes >>