<< -- 2 -- Roderic Dunnett LIFE IN THE OLD TIGER
Many of the recently toured productions (a recent Tosca, for example,
with lead tenor Mihai Muntean -- currently appearing as Pollione in Chisinau's
touring Norma -- reprising in his fifties the role of Cavaradossi)
-- date from the mid-80s, the heyday of veteran director Eugen Platon. Like
English National Opera, today's Chisinau company could benefit from
an additional layer -- a forward-thinking dramaturg or director of productions.
Oghnyan Nicolov (facing upstage) as Calaf and the Chisinau National Opera Chorus in the 2001 Chisinau National Opera production of Puccini's 'Turandot'
Gradually, however, these by now seasoned stagings are having a makeover
(of sorts), being dusted down and improved with new decor and costumes.
It's not a transformation; but it helps. Ellen Kent's touring
Butterfly set, with watergarden, was something of a coup, especially
with the superb Natalia Yutesh making her vocal and dramatic mark in the
title role. A few -- an old-looking Traviata and Figaro, for
instance -- verge on the dowdy. But a variable Carmen, like the visually
dramatic Norma, was cheered by new sets by designer Felix Bessonov.
Chisinau's costumes may be traditional, but they are sometimes -- witness
their Aida, Pagliacci and Turandot [listen
-- 'Nessun Dorma'] -- a visual feast. The chorus -- on tour at least --
are not among the world's nattiest movers, and they sing inconsistently.
Vocally they alternate between superb, promising, encouraging and (depending
on the tenors' mood) ropy.
Petru Racovita as Marcello in the 2001 Chisinau National Opera production of Puccini's 'La Bohème'
Copyright © 6 October 2002
Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK