Thursday, February 16, 2017

Sergio A. Mims: ZealNYC: Review: Illness Provides Yende Unexpected Opportunity to Triumph at the Met

Pretty Yende
(Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera)

Luca Pisaroni and Pretty Yende in Bellini’s ‘I Puritani;’ photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera

Sergio A. Mims writes:

Here's a rave review of Pretty Yende's performance at the Met (which was not reviewed by the NY Times).


By Christopher Johnson, Contributing Writer, February 15, 2017

The Met’s current revival of Bellini’s I Puritani became an instant must-see, with reportedly thrilling performances in the leading roles by Diana Damrau, one of our greatest singing actresses, and Javier Camarena, only the third artist in living memory to have earned an encore in the house, and that thrice.

But Damrau, who has been fighting illness all winter and had to cancel a much-anticipated recital with harpist Xavier de Maistre at very nearly the last minute in December, sat out Tuesday night’s performance. Pretty Yende took her place.
It was a night to remember.

Camarena’s Arturo was every bit as good as expected, but Yende’s Elvira was spectacular in every way. She had only sung the role once before, in a non-traditional production last year in Zurich. It was a triumph for her, and Tuesday night’s performance, in a staging that could not possibly have been more different, has to count as another.

As singing, it was not perfect—Yende has something of a beat in her voice that takes a little getting used to, and she sometimes merged with the orchestra when she should have been floating above it—but as musical expression, it was peerless, and as a progressive revelation of character, it was meticulously thought-out and deeply convincing. Her acting was psychologically acute, finely detailed, and perfectly meshed with the rest of the production—an astonishing achievement, given that Elvira is one of the most challenging roles in the repertoire, both musically and theatrically, and that Yende had had three days, at most, to learn the staging.

All the famous high-points were solid—the extended mad-scene in Act Two, beautifully sung and brilliantly acted, got a huge ovation, and rightly so—but the little things were even more impressive, from Yende’s telling gradations of posture to her eloquent, but always perfectly natural, handling of props. Even Camarena, never the most vivid of actors, got caught up in her energy, and their final clinch in Act Three stopped the show. Truly. As in, they could not continue for a long time because the audience would not shut up.

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