Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Praise for Il trovatore

Philip Newton photo
"Stunning production! … So good I rushed out and bought another ticket." Shayna T. 

"Everyone go and see this! I went for my birthday today and was blown away! One of the best SO productions I've seen, and I've seen a lot of them." - Sofia W.
"I saw this show tonight and after being on the fence about this art form, I am now officially an opera fan." - Sam H.

"Awesome performance today. The audience was totally captivated by the staging and superb voices. Thank you for an unforgettable afternoon." - Ursula S.

Lester Lynch (Di Luna). Philip Newton photo
"The new production of Verdi's Il Trovatore at Seattle Opera packs such a thrilling punch that even my 80-year-old body pumped teenaged adrenalin again and again at Saturday's opening night performance." - Seattle Gay News

"This SO production had the requisite grandeur and musical talent, yet remained fresh." - Oregon Arts Watch

"On Saturday, the opening-night audience heard the resplendent soprano Leah Crocetto (last heard here in the title role of 'Aida') as Leonora, offering some thrilling high notes and a performance that combined power and easy facility. Her Manrico was Arnold Rawls, a dashing actor whose tenor took a while to warm up but rose to the challenge of 'Di quella pira' in fine style." - The Seattle Times

"I am more of a theatre person than an opera person, so when I went to the Seattle Opera on Sunday, I was not looking forward to sitting through the almost 3-hour production of Verdi’s 'Il Trovatore' on a sunny day . . . Then I was blown away! The story of 'Il Trovatore' is difficult, with events happening a generation ago and the entire first scene is one long song just telling us what happened 20 years ago. Snore, right? But no! – the direction and the singers were AMAZING, and that made all the difference. In fact, the singer playing Leonora was so amazing, I think I am now a fan of her. Her name is Angela Meade and when she started to sing, I got chills. She did something I have never heard. It’s called pianississimo, which means 'more than very soft.' She sang the highest notes in the world in the quietest voice I possible, and the effect was mesmerizing. Really. After one aria she got the longest applause with BRAVAs that I’ve ever seen. Also, she is from Centralia, WA, so singing at the Seattle Opera is coming home for her! The opera also dealt with women’s issues interestingly – there is a substantial plot line about witchcraft and burning at the stake. Go SO!" - M.J. McDermott, Q13 News 

Lester Lynch (Di Luna), Leah Crocetto (Leonora), and Arnold Rawls (Manrico). Jacob Lucas photo
"Opening night’s cast featured tenor Arnold Rawls in the title troubadour role, Manrico ... Rawls was in solid form for his big moment at the end of Act 3, unleashing the stirring and prolonged high C that every Trovatore fan anticipates. Rawls played well off powerful mezzo-soprano Elena Gabouri as his mother, the vengeance-crazed Azucena; his Manrico was also a bit unhinged, clearly his mother’s son. His rival, romantically and politically, is the Count di Luna, sounding properly villainous, rough and gruff, as played by Lester Lynch." - Seattle Weekly

"Overall my first venture into McCaw Hall for a performance from the Seattle Opera was highly pleasurable. If you're going for the first time, read up on the show beforehand, allow plenty of time the day or night of the performance, and then go in to the hall with an open mind. I think you'll leave as I did - satisfied." - Eclectic Arts

Elena Gabouri (Azucena). Philip Newton photo
"As the gypsy Azucena, Elena Gabouri (last heard here as Amneris in 'Aida') was a powerful singer and actor who performed with all-out intensity. Baritone Lester Lynch, heard earlier this season as Crown in 'Porgy and Bess,' displayed a wide interpretive range as the villainous Count di Luna: commandingly evil, yet capable of warm subtlety in his aria 'Il balen.'" - The Seattle Times

"Politicians talk about values,when they only care about money. Operas have plots, but the real substance is the music. Il Trovatore inspires a bit of cognitive dissonance. The story is grotesque, but the songs are upbeat and memorable. The vocals are among the most challenging in the world, yet the melodies invite you hum. It’s easy to imagine people waving their mugs in the air as they sing the choruses from Il Trovatore together in the bar a week after seeing the opera."  - Gemma Alexander

"The top performance, by a long shot, was that of soprano Angela Meade. The sheer beauty of her singing had me in tears more than once. Her tone was gorgeous from top to bottom of her considerable range. Her trill shimmered, and her soft high notes floated above the orchestra to perfection. Her acting was fine, but I would probably have enjoyed her performance just as much with my eyes closed." - Seattle Gay News
Angela Meade (Leonora). Philip Newton photo
"In Sunday’s alternate cast, the standout was the thrilling Leonora of Angela Meade, a soprano from Centralia who has won 57 competition prizes and who debuted at the Metropolitan Opera in 2008. Her beautiful tone quality and her interpretive artistry were capped with an amazing crescendo on the high A-flat at the end of 'D’amor sull’ali rosee' — which met with a showstopping ovation of cheers and whistles." - The Seattle Times

"There were two stars in this show. The first was the orchestra under conductor Carlo Montanaro (I’ll get to the second one in a moment). They were magnificent. You’re not likely to hear a better performance from the pit for Il Trovatore. Montanaro and his musicians seemed to treat Verdi score as if it were a symphony. Every nuance, every subtlety of orchestration was given its due. It was like hearing the music afresh. In many performances of Verdi’s operas the orchestra takes second place to the singers, but not in this one." - Andy Nicastro

"Leah Crocetto sang Leonora, the noblewoman over whom the two clash. Her soprano is uncommonly lovely at low volume—soft and warm, she sounds like cashmere feels—but she can also uncover it to loose easy, airborne high notes. Particularly memorable was her Act 4 aria 'D’amor sull’ali rosee,' miraculously dreamy." - Seattle Weekly

Nora Sourouzian (Azucena). Jacob Lucas photo

"Nora Sourouzian’s Azucena grew steadily in strength and finesse as Sunday’s show went on, and baritone Michael Mayes made a vital, vivid di Luna. John Marzano and Nerys Jones were commendable in their supporting roles as Ruiz and Inez." - The Seattle Times

"The second star of the evening—and really the main one—was Leah Crocetto in the role of Leonora. The night belonged to her. From the moment of her entrance she dominated the show. She has a voice of unique beauty, warmth, and fullness. It easily reached the back rows (where I was sitting) and in its quieter moments it takes on a gentleness and expressiveness which one doesn’t normally get from a singer with that kind of power." - Andy Nicastro

"The always excellent Seattle Opera chorus outdid itself. Not only did it sound terrific, but the choristers threw themselves into physical performance to an extent I've rarely seen. Their challenging slow-motion and stop-action moments were dramatically powerful and showed an amazing level of physical discipline. Kudos to choreographer Kathryn Van Meter and Fight Director Geoffrey Alm for creating those arresting scenes." - Seattle Gay News

"Keeping all their interactions clear and impactful in a notoriously complex story was the laudable achievement of stage director Dan Wallace Miller and supertitle writer Jonathan Dean — though I would be curious to ask someone who doesn’t know the opera how well they grasped it all. Pretty well, I imagine." - Seattle Weekly

Arnold Rawls (Manrico) and members of Seattle Opera's Il trovatore cast. Jacob Lucas photo
"Lester Lynch also shone as the Count di Luna. The Count is a dreary fellow and hard to like, but Lynch made him human and understandable, which is a greater accomplishment than making him likeable. He also brought a sense of vulnerability to the role. At one point he softly sings Leonora’s name with such longing and tenderness it’ll break your heart."  - Andy Nicastro

"Seattle stage director Dan Wallace Miller made his company mainstage debut with this production, presenting an original, effective approach to an opera that requires a great deal of dashing about — duels, battles, deaths, amorous clinches, treachery, avowals of hatred and love, and renunciations. In one key scene, he reduced a chaotic battle to a slow-motion background for the lovers’ crucial real-time interchange: chancy but effective. Miller also made vivid use of 'shadow plays,' backlighted episodes with actors dramatizing the narrative." - The Seattle Times

"Verdi’s Il trovatore has something for everyone: drama, a ridiculous plot, vengeance, battles, and hours of complex melodious music. Beloved by audiences, together they don’t always form a compelling whole. The opera can be difficult to pull off in the theater without both an eye and an ear to how everything should fit together. During its current run with Seattle Opera, an effective aesthetic — combined with an excellent quartet of singers in the main roles — helped to make the best case possible for this complex work." - Seen and Heard International 

Verdi's Il trovatore plays now through Jan. 26 at McCaw Hall.