Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (Bucharest, 18 September 2015)
This excellent livestreamed performance from the George Enescu Festival comes as a bonus for us looking to hear this very same cast at the Barbican in a couple of weeks.
The George Enescu Festival first got my attention via its top quality Baroque (and beyond) bookings, when the concert performance of Ariodante spawned my favourite rendition of Dopo notte:
How sweet is that starting dopo? whew. I’ve heard a good slew of excellent Dopo nottes but this one still has a certain edge. And not bad tempo at all from Curtis, who gave us that sluggish DVD of Ariodante. I envy those in attendence!
Ever since then I’ve checked the Festival for anything (Baroque) interesting. I was quite tempted to attend this year, given their inclusion of Monteverdi, but the September slot is a bit weird for me. Considering the continuous high level of performances, I shall make time one year, though I heard not all the venues used have top notch acoustics (but then neither does the Barbican or the Royal Albert Hall). I understand the Ateneu is a good venue. Annie, maybe you can give a brief account, seeing as how you’ve actually attended this performance 🙂
Ulisse: Ian Bostridge
Penelope: Barbara Kozelj
Minerva/Amore: Elizabeth Watts
Telemaco: Andrew Tortise
Tempo/Nettuno/Antinoo: Lukas Jakobski
Melanto/Fortuna: Sophie Junker
L’umana fragilita: Daniela Lehner
Eumete: Christopher Gillett
Iro: Alexander Oliver
Conductor: Richard Egarr | Academy of Ancient Music
George Enescu Festival, Ateneul Român (livestreaming)
Lucky for us all, the Festival livestreams a lot of their performances. Aside from some lazy video mixing before and after the performance and a tendency for super saturated sound (which afflicted Watts worse than anyone else), the streaming was very reliable; some interesting angles from behind the singers. Good emphasis was put on the involved acting from all and sundry.
Egarr’s tempo was quite slow, at least compared to Christie’s in my favourite version (see Missing in action…). That came as a bit of a surprise, as I remember him storming through L’Orfeo two years ago at the Barbican.
This Ulisse and his Penelope have been through so much they can’t quite let themselves go. They are very gentle and mature even when everything ends well.
Penelope’s lament: very well sung and dignified but you’d think she’d be more gutted/fed up; gentle voice but perhaps forgettable. The final duet was lovely in its very subdued way.
Ulisse: I’ve only heard Bostridge in lieder so far but very nice tone and phrasing and all in all a riveting performance as the moodiest Ulisse out there. I officially have no more reason to ignore his Wigmore Hall outings 😉
The picture does not lie: apparently, singers in possession of good coloratura skills can be spotted by their long necks. Countertenors and mezzos look more or less the same. Basses are supposedly tall. These three “suitors” blended very well.
Watts: proper Cassandra 😀 not the Monteverdiest stylings but an energetic portrayal and her comic skills are up my alley.
Though I don’t like children in opera I do enjoy old geezers swing some trills’n’silly jokes. Alexander Oliver got some of the warmest applause for his scheming Iro.
The others were good too, especially Junker’s Melanto, but more about them in a couple of weeks, in the Barbican semi-staged version!