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<<  -- 2 --  Roderic Dunnett    LIFE IN THE OLD TIGER

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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'
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'
Petru Racovita as Marcello in the 2001 Chisinau National Opera production of Puccini's 'La Bohème'

 

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Copyright © 6 October 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Coventry, UK

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