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In the details

The saga of the Royal Opera’s production of Robert le Diable, infinitely more melodramatic than the plot of the opera proper, continues: “After much deliberation and consultation following the final rehearsals of Meyerbeer’s Robert le diable, it has been agreed between The Royal Opera and soprano Jennifer Rowley that the role of Isabelle would not be the right part for her debut at Covent Garden.” [Royal Opera]

122 comments

  • stevey says:

    Well, I find this most encouraging news, rumors, scandals, subterfuge, hidden agendas, and all other ‘possiblies’ aside.
    I simply am taking this to mean that for whatever reason, Covent Garden is trying to assemble the most able cast they can within their own realm of possibilities and legal capabilities and, if they felt this wasn’t Ms. Rowley, then good on them. They’re obviously not just planning on throwing her by the wayside…
    Personally, I think you Londoners are in for a treat, and I am thankful for it being brought (admittedly, most prominently through my learned brethren here on this site- yet another reason why I am so grateful for both it, and you all) to my attention. It was never an opera that really registered on my radar, much though I do like Meyerbeer. One of you on here posted the final trio a few weeks ago and I was absolutely captivated. The history, the artists- both past and (comparatively) recent, SO much about this opera is so rich and has so much to offer… the ROH should be commended for bringing this opera and all of its history into our modern consciousness, and I do hope that the production offers all who are lucky enough to access it, everything that the opera can.
    In regards to the casting…..
    I disagree with most of you who are erring towards the dismissive towards Marina Poplavskaya’s Alice. Robert le Diable is an opera that La Poplavskaya seems to want to have her fingers on the pulse of. Isabelle’s wonderful cavatina is now part of her recital repertoire (for good or for ill) and after my exposures to the wonderful final trio- where Alice and Bertram are literally pulling Robert apart in their battle for his soul (with that incredible moment where they- and it all- goes from B minor to full B major), I can see Poplavskaya doing quite well as an intense, determined Alice… NOT the ‘carefree’ Alice, the clutzy, somewhat normal girl suddenly propelled into circumstances way beyond her- yet who rises magnificently to the occasion (as was Mescheriakova in the 2000 Berlin performance, a performance which I am happy to share with anyone who may be interested (the sound isn’t the greatest…), but a girl still plagued by her OWN mother’s death, and fully cognizant of the grave circumstances and situation she finds herself in…
    Likewise, Alice requires none of the coloratura of Isabelle, which might be said to be a more ‘flighty’, typically ‘operatic’ role, and one in which I don’t think Poplavskaya would be in any way suitable for. But I can see her as a quite intense, young, very ‘Russian’ Alice… likewise, in that final trio, so much of Alice’s music seems to hover in and around the passagio… I think of those arching phrases after her first “Dieu puissante” (I believe the words are “Dieu— pui—ssan—te—- Ciel— pro—tec—teur—-Que—ton—Saint—Nom”), that start on (I believe) the F, the go to the G, and finally to the high A… punishing phrases (that Michele Lagrange handles wonderfully in the YouTube excerpt), even the few highest notes in this scene (high B’s, I believe)… I can see Popsy acquitting herself quite well in all of this, especially with all the desperate religious / ‘dead mother related’ supplicating going on…. I hope this is so, anyway…
    Ciofi is well acquainted with the role, obviously… do you think it could be said that, of all artists currently singing, she would be the most ‘practiced’ and ‘accomplished’ Isabelle?? I certainly wasn’t overwhelmed by any renditions of Isabelle’s music that I have heard… but I haven’t heard the Mok/Raspagliosi/et al/ Robert, so I freely admit that in this regard I really ESPECIALLY don’t know what the hell I’m talking about… ;-)
    Relyea… yeah, I’m not sure about this. But I’m willing to give him a shot. All I know is that you Londoner’s have a wonderful opportunity to hear a piece of music history that I can’t imagine any of us on this end of the Great Pond will have a chance of hearing- in such prominence, and held to such (hopefully) high standards- and I really do hope and pray that a good time is had by all. From my standpoints, at least…. the music truly does deserve it.

    • MontyNostry says:

      ” … so much of Alice’s music seems to hover in and around the passagio.” Perfect for Poplavskaya, then, since it can sometimes seem that two-thirds of her voice consists of passagio that needs to be gingerly manipulated.

      • bewilbered says:

        Actually, while I’m asking, there are some other sopranos with unspecified Met debuts: Meagan Miller (late 2013), Kathryn Lewek (13-14), Amanda Majeski, Pretty Yende. Any reports?

        If Miller is going to be a principal, Rosalinde makes sense to me. Kathryn Lewek maybe Lisa in SONNAMBULA or Fiakermilli, if Peretyatko has abandoned that to focus on PURITANI. But this is all just guesswork, and I’m hoping for more…

        And I’ll throw in Christian Van Horn, even though he’s a bass….

        • MontyNostry says:

          I hope the talented Miss Yende has sharpened her technique a little by the time she makes her Met debut.

        • Buster says:

          Pretty Yende was great when I heard her in 2008. I hope she gets La Sonnambula -- her Care Compagne was breathtaking. Lovely personality, too.

          • Cocky Kurwenal says:

            Sorry to disagree Buster, but I think Pretty Yende should stay well away from Sonnambula. To me the high tessitura and coloratura always make her sound like she’s getting tied up in knots -- I think she’s a fully lyric who needs to let it all out.

          • Buster says:

            Interesting, Cocky. It was a big, free, vibrant voice, I remember, with an elegant phrasing, that was totally exciting. In the other big thing she sang that afternoon (International Vocal Competition ‘s Hertogenbosch) the excitement was less great -- a not very stylish Fledermauss Csardas, in which she was not living the music as she was in the Bellini. I have not heard her since, so I have no idea how she is developing. I remember she had already sung the Nozze Countess on stage before entering the IVC. Anyhow, have not heard anyone else making the same impact there since.

          • kashania says:

            Based solely on the Vespiri Bolero clip, I’d have to agree with Cocky’s assessment of her voice. As AJ says, it is quite an instrument. I hope she keep working at her technique. What is she singing at the Met this season?

        • louannd says:

          You can hear snippets of Amanda Majeski in this Alcina i this video:

          She was an unheralded star of the unfortunate production of Griselda in Santa Fe in 2011. She was one of the few people on stage who acted like they totally bought into the production’s concept, quite the stage animal IMHO with a pretty decent voice. I really enjoyed her performance.

  • willym says:

    Just got an e-mail from Covent Garden advising me that the performance I’ve booked for the 15 will now end at 2235 not the previously announced 2215. Perhaps the Maestro has learned to slow down a bit -- always so “energetic” I believe is the word, on the podium!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor says:

    This reading makes Margaret Juntwait sound like velvet!

    • Vergin Vezzosa says:

      QPF -- this is a RIOT! I only made it through the first 2 minutes and had to stop because I was laughing so hard. Thank you for the major mood pickup to end a tedious day of traveling. VV.

    • Camille says:

      “He carried off the difficult solo parts with a PLUM…”.

      Well intentioned, but hysterical all the same.