Monday, 29 August 2011

Outdoor opera in Bergen - Cavalleria / Villi

In the splendid setting of Bergenhus fortress two operas were performed with a new Regie than the usual. Cavalleria Rusticana by Pietro Mascagni did not agree with the Regie although there were some interesting, new, exciting moments with this Regie. On the other hand the Regie of Le Villi by Giacomo Puccini worked in all moments.

August 28, 2011


Santuzza - Elena Zelenskaya
Turriddu - Eduardo Villa
Mamma Lucia - Tone Kvam Thorsen
Alfio - Anooshah Golesorkhi
Lola - Sylvia Skeie Vik

The crisp, clear sounds of Cavalleria Rusticana had never sounded more beautiful and true than the orchestra of Opera Bergen played it under its leader Anne Randine Øverby. Beatiful and clear it sounded at the same time it served the drama.

Musically the low-point for me was the Siciliana sung Eduardo Villa. It sounded like it was sung by an old tenor at the end of his career. Is it that the Siciliana (O Lola, ch'ai di latti la cammisa) is so difficult to sing right, or is it just that it is the beginning of the opera. I don't know. I just know that Eduardo Villa convinced me vocally and dramatically later in the evening, especially in the duet between Turriddu and Santuzza.

The evening was an evening of old, seasoned opera singers. They all warmed up or maybe it was me who warmed up to them. But then it was the Regie of young director Rocc that almost ruined Cavalleria Rusticana singelhandedly.

The chorus, who was they supposed to be in this production. Was they drunken teen-agers from a graduation party? Lola and Mamma Lucia seemed to work in this "High School". I imagined Mamma Lucia as the rector. Lola as just one of the teachers. Alfio, her husband, instead of being one of the prominent men of the village seemed to be a traveling beggar.

I mistook Mamma Lucia for Santuzza since she was the first of the principals to present herself and she was even praying. Both Santuzza and Mamma Lucia was had black hair and same age (so it seemed) and they were the only ones who in this production were sincere. In many ways Cavalleria Rusticana was here the story of hypocrites against sincerity. Turriddu was no hypocrite, or was he. And Alfio...

Most of what the chorus did not help the story forward, it confused rather than explain. Was that intentional from director Rocc? But one point was rather good: Instead of the tradional horrendous screaming "Hanno mazzato compare Turriddu" , one of the chorists was given a note and said in the most strange voice this message twice. I think it was THE PROOF of Hypocrisy if we needed it.

Given the material they were given I cannot imagine the principals and chorus could have improved it more. Eduardo Villa was really Turriddu, Elena Zelenskaya was truly Santuzza, I loved Tone Kvam Thorsen's Mamma Lucia (elegant, and so moving), Anooshah Golesorkhi was a solid Alfi, and I disliked Sylvia Skeie Vik (I always dislike LOLA, always, no matter who sings it and especially when they are believable.

And naturally it started to rain in the middle of the opera. Even the weather gods was not loving this opera completely.

Puccini: LE VILLI

Anna - Elena Zelenskaya
Roberto - Eduardo Villa
Guglielmo Wulf - Anooshah Golesorkhi

As I saw Anooshah Golesorckhi dancing to the stage at the notes of Puccini's Le Villi I thought I would also be disappointed by Regie. But this time the opera let itself willingly into Rocc's Regie.

The first part of Le Villi was played as an old play with big gestures and with all having masks. The chorus started out as audience to the play with Guglielmo Wulf  as their favorite actor. Then as Anna came onstage, the "audience" fell asleep. Luckily we, the real audience got Anna's wonderful aria "Se come voi piccina io fossi", and then Roberto came and it was a wonderful duet. Suddenly "the audience" woke up at the sound clocks and Roberto was sung off. White cloths for this part by the principals.

As Roberto is off, the chorus is transformed from "audience" to acting Villis. Just as Anna dies of sorrow since it takes so long for Roberto to come back (I know this because I knew the opera from before, for others good luck it getting it from just seeing this production),  the audience dies to become Villis. The unhappy father curses Roberto and then asks God of forgiving for invoking the Villis. But they are already ready for Roberto. Gran Scena and Aria for Eduardo Villa. BRAVO!!! Then Anna, the undead, new Villi and the other Villis "dance" Roberto to his death. LOVED IT!!!

For reviews from my travels, see

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