Sunday, December 7, 2008

Night at the Opera II

I attended opening night at Milan's La Scala opera house tonight and saw a wonderful Don Carlo, with all the trimmings you'd expect from Verdi's night at the opera, Italian style.  

The Milanese were dressed to the nove's, black tie, long gowns, jewelry and furs to die for, if that's your cup of tea.  The house sparkled---today was the first time I had seen the inside of La Scala since its overhaul and renovation several years ago.  

A night at La Scala wouldn't be complete without backstage drama, and the Italians didn't disappoint, having yanked tenor Filianoti this week in favor of a so-so American, Stuart Neill, in the lead role.  The mezzo's were awesome, in particular Dolora Zajick as Eboli.  When I heard her sing tonight, I thought immediately of another Verdi dramatic mezzo role, Azucena, in Il Trovatore.  As it turns out, Zajick had already sung the part elsewhere---I'd get on an airplane to see that performance!  

For opera lovers like me, hearing Verdi from La Scala is like the wine connoisseur's sipping Cabernet in Sonoma or the meat lover's diving into barbecue in Kansas City.  A perfect combo of product and atmospherics.  The Italians in the opera house are quick to judge---much like American audiences--but they express themselves with a gusto and directness I've seen nowhere else.  A competing chorus of cheers from the platea and lusty boos from the loggionisti far above.  What a thrill.

I loved 'being there', but I wasn't there at all---I experienced it all from my aisle seat at Columbia's Miller Theater, live on HDTV.  Che meraviglia!!

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