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It was Pavarotti who set the drama in flow : Puccini phases the build-up
cannily -- the panicky arrival of the fugitive Cesare Angelotti (Graeme Broadbent),
in flight from precisely the anti-republican forces who people Carlos Gomes's
Salvator Rosa [read Roderic Dunnett's
review], ratchets up tension immediately after the grim, Scarpia-evoking
opening chords. The Sacristan (Henry Waddington), with his ready tongue,
constant carpings and liability to spill the beans, tweaks the sense of
mortal danger by loading it with black comedy. Both were adequate, and Broadbent
quite nicely penetrating in an aptly Fidelio-ish way, though neither sang
in such a way as to galvanise the house.
But then Pavarotti enters, sliding almost unnoticed along the church
benches past the blue-lit Madonna; takes up his palette; and begins to paint.
And one is mesmerised. Three times within the first few minutes he contrives
to turn his back fully on the audience (once, singing); each time, it makes
one hanker for his next line. A dab here, a ponder there; the gestures are
minute, neither artificial nor showy. Pavarotti, given to delivering his
set pieces pretty stock-still, is not renowned as an actor. 'Recondita armonia'
was an example. But watch him off the ball -- full of touches of sly ingenuity,
although (here, certainly) stopping short of stealing from another's performance
: loaded with experience -- a Premier League performance.
Copyright © 17 January 2002
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK
LONDON'S ROYAL OPERA HOUSE WEBSITE
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