Saturday, December 17, 2016

Il Trovatore with Quinn Kelsey

Jennifer Davis, Gabor Bretz, Quinn Kelsey, Stefano Secco,
Maria Agresta, Anita Rachvelishvili and David Junghoon Kim
To the ROH last night to see Quinn Kelsey in Il Trovatore, the final night with that cast. I'd never seen this opera before and so made sure I didn't read any synopsis of the plot in the programme or otherwise, and could hear it for the first time.

The plot hinges of a Troubadour who turns out not to be the grandson of a gypsy burned at the stake for being a witch, but the son of the Count who burned her. This is in itself hard to locate historically: Troubadours were around 1100-1350. However in the Middle Ages there are almost no cases of people being burned as Witches - the Catholic Church from 900 to 1300 was adamantly against witch hunting and took the position stated clearly by Augustine that witchcraft simply didn't exist. Witch-hunting was a Renaissance activity. However Verdi and his librettist Salvadore Cammarano would not have known this (nor would the Spanish playwright on whose play the work is based) and it's meant to be around 1300.  So naturally in Covent Garden we have a tank and an army with machine guns. Ah well, that's Opera Director's for you!

The singing and acting were very fine indeed. Gabor Bretz grabbed attention and then Quinn came in with his dominating and almost mesmeric presence. Although he is the "villain" he is also the pivotal person and (I think) on stage the most. This was Stefano Secco's only appearance as the titular Tovatore Manrico and he did a fine job. But Anita Rachvelishvili as the gypsy Azucena was astounding, an amazing voice and a compelling performance for which she rightly got enormous applause. This was the last evening for the December cast: there is a new cast in Jan/Feb but she is the only major part that stays and is an excellent reason to go and see the production.

Quinn is really superb and if you can you should definitely catch his Rigoletto in Frankfurt (March and April 2017) or San Francisco (May 31st - July 1st) - I saw him in this in London and he is amazing!

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