Lynn René Bayley
, March 2014
…vocally and dramatically, this performance really takes off. Downes drives his orchestra, chorus, and soloists like a man possessed…and all the solo voices are good in the first scene, even the dark sound of Parodi as Monterone. Gavanelli not only has a first-class voice, he knows how to use it for both musical and dramatic effect and is a fine stage actor as well.
I’ve long felt that Edward Downes was one of the more underrated opera conductors in the world. A sterling example of how he works may be heard in “Pari siamo,” that difficult quasi-parlando aria in which the title character vacillates between self-reflection and loathing of the court and those he must serve and make laugh. This has always been, for me, one of the supreme highlights of this opera, yet too many baritones run through it as if it were a bel canto exercise. Gavanelli and Downes know exactly how to play it, and it comes off beautifully. The baritone here reveals as great a command of soft singing and half-shades as of ringing, forte high notes.
…Christine Schäfer…is in superb voice and, more importantly, is a fine stage actress.
Wonder of wonders, Álvarez sings “La donna è mobile” with lightness and delicacy…Graciela Araya is an excellent Maddalena, both vocally and histrionically, and the quartet ends quietly with no one banging out a high note…and Downes’s conducting of the storm scene is just as powerful as Toscanini’s. The final scene is touchingly sung and acted. All in all, a splendid performance. © 2014 Fanfare Read complete review