Lynn René Bayley
, July 2012
True genius—in a conductor, a singer, a pianist, an actor, or a composer—is not only a rare thing but difficult to explain…
I bring this up not because I have watched Nina, and its companion piece Paisiello: A Forgotten Genius, and been won over by the brilliance of the composer, but because I have listened to and watched Adám Fischer, Cecilia Bartoli, Jonas Kaufmann, and Lászlo Polgár perform Nina, and these are artists of real genius.
Were you just listening to this performance, you would…be impressed by Fischer’s conducting and by the singing of the trio of Bartoli, Kaufmann, and Polgar…
Nina is mad from her first entrance, but unlike such loose screws of the opera world…Nina is aware of her madness to a certain extent. She can’t control it, but she knows why she is mad, and at times understands that she is not normal, and those moments are touching because they seem real. In performing this complex madwoman, Bartoli uses all her powers of stage illusion to create a character that is both believably insane and believably likeable. It is not an easy road she has taken, particularly in a work that, with the wrong cast or director, could easily be reduced to mundane tedium, but she succeeds. Her first-act aria, “Il mio ben quando verrà,” is really a fine piece of music, but Bartoli makes it more effective by the way she handles and inhabits the role. Her shading and coloring of her voice makes the words mean something. Even the pauses are dramatic. A fine aria thus becomes a great one, supported in turn by a conductor who understands what she and the director are driving at. That is what I mean by genius.
Jonas Kaufmann has, since this production, risen as a major operatic star, and again it is his combination of singing and acting that makes him so great.
This is the performance to acquire, and yes, you want it on video. © 2012 Fanfare Read complete review