Well, originally Rolando Villazon was meant to be part of the cast – and I thought let’s give him a chance… however, a week after I booked I received a notification that he withdrew. I briefly thought about returning the ticket but oh well – never seen the opera so why not give it a go… and the evening did have a few suprises in store!Donizetti took inspiration from Le Philtre and I did a tiny bit of research about it before – but decide to let myself be surprised.
The standout star of the evening was without a shadow of a doubt was Pretty Yende! I had come across her name a few times in combination with the Met and was excited to have the chance to finally see her – therefore I was more than happy that I did not return the ticket!! She was just absolutely magnificent! The first moment the curtain lifted she was simply owning the stage! Her presence is simply radiating and she emits a warmth that inevitably draws your eyes towards her. Well – and her voice… considering she is just a couple years older than me it is unbelievable what she has achieved in the opera world that is normally renowned to be challenging to break in. She is certainly breaking down barriers for everyone. The role of Adina was the Royal Opera House debut for the South African born Soprano. It was a revelation to see such a fantastic singer making her mark at the London stage and hopefully setting a new direction.
Liparit Avetisyan, an Armenian tenor, was replacing Villazon in the role of Nemorino. Him and Yende were an absolut dream to watch. He was just the perfect match for the role of this bit naive farm worker, not only his singing but also his acting were superb. To be honest – I believe he was a much better match than Villazon! The chemistry between the whole cast was amazing and I doubt anything would have improved. Not that I have ever seen or hear Villazon on stage, therefore I really can’t judge, but I very much doubt he would have complimented Yende’s superb acting.
Another character, Doctor Dulcamara, which is just a delight to watch and requires a very charismatic singer – he came in form of Alex Esposito. His wit and lightness about him were just second to none and he was the perfect reincarnation of this very sleezy, crafty and nifty Quack. Paolo Bordogna, playing the Sergeant, was also absolutely fabulous.
Laurent Pelly’s production was very light hearted and refreshing to watch. Little touches here and there really did transport you into an Italian village. The big hay stack was just very refreshing and the tumbling and chasing up and down was amazing. As usual, Orchestra and Choir of the ROH were on top form and were the perfect match to support the leads to create a perfectly rounded experience.
Well, not all went smooth though…. about an hour into the performance everyone was doubting their ears for a minute thinking what are those weird noises – are they in the score?!? Until a voice came on over the tannoy saying that a fire had been detected and the building had to be evacuated. What happend afterwards was the most British thing ever – the house lights came on, everyone got up and calmly queued up to leave the building – in less than 5 minutes the building was empty! Of course everyone was worried and wondering what had actually happened. It turned out to be a false alarm and after about 15mins we were allowed back in, of course another ticket and thorough bag check followed and 30 mins after the alarm went of curtains lifted again to a bit cheer. I felt a little sorry for those people that had to leave earlier as they needed to catch their last trains. The whole situation was handled incredibly well by the staff of the ROH and it made one feel much more at ease, especially with most recent events here in London.
It was a magnificent night, despite the little interruption and it can’t be recommended highly enough for a lovely night of light entertainment.