It is in the idyllic setting of the Royal Palace of Caserta near Naples that the Metropolitan Opera welcomes us for the October 24 concert which brings together Diana Damrau and Joseph Calleja. After an overview of the palace, the camera takes us inside the building to the sumptuous Palatine Chapel designed by the architect Luigi Vanvitelli for Charles de Bourbon. Could one imagine a more prestigious setting for the duo of the first act of Tosca who opens the evening? A page that allowed Diana Damrau to measure herself for the first time with the charismatic heroine of Puccini, a role in which we did not expect her and from which she comes out with honors. Alternately languid, worried or jealous, smirking just enough, the German soprano plays an endearing and deliciously feminine Tosca. She clicks her “È l’Attavanti!” »With all the authority required and launches« my falle gli occhi neri »with a small mischievous voice before leaving the place. Very beautiful, the singer appeared in a black dress, sober and classy, surmounted by a sort of black and white bolero that she will then exchange for a red stole when she returns to sing her “Vissi d’arte”. delivers a touching interpretation with a lighter voice than those usually heard on this page, which has the effect of accentuating the youth and fragility of the character. A future role taking? Maybe not immediately, but what the German soprano suggests in these excerpts does not lack allure.
At his side, Joseph Calleja plays a Cavaradossi of great luxury with his clear timbre, his opulent voice, the elegance of his line of song and his sovereign mastery of nuance. Her half-hearted “Floria t’amo” is irresistible, as is her impeccable diminuendo on “Le belle forme disciogliea dai veli” during her aria in the last act.
After these three pages, Angel Blue who presents the evening announces a break during which we are presented with two extracts from The Traviata with Damrau broadcast in cinemas on December 16, 2018, the interview with the soprano by Anita Rachvelishvili and “Addio del passato. “
The concert resumes with a succession of seemingly unrelated arias and duets, the sole purpose of which is to highlight the vocal abilities of the two protagonists. Bet won with the duo of the first act of L ‘Elixir of love in which our two accomplices, experienced in the demands of bel canto, are at their best and offer perfect examples of legato in the slow parts of this piece. Calleja then delivers a poignant interpretation of the aria “Ma se m’è forza perderti” which opens the last act of Ball mask by Verdi, where the fullness of his warm tone works wonders. We only regret that he did not give the last section of this page “Si rivederti Amelia” which would have highlighted his high register. Then Damrau offers us a beautifully crafted “Bel raggio lusinghier”, sung with ease and tastefully decorated, during which we will have appreciated the precision of his vocalizations from “Dolce pensiero”. This second part of the concert ends with two extracts from Carmen : a captivating “Flower that you had thrown to me” in which Calleja, who offers herself the coquetry of not rolling the “r”, delights us with a masterly diminuendo on “And I was a thing to you”, before d ‘to be joined by her partner, wrapped this time in a blue shawl, for the duet of the first act “Parle-moi de ma mère”, interpreted with delicacy and impeccable diction by the two artists to whom we would have liked to testify our gratitude, our enthusiasm, but how frustrating this lack of applause is! The second break allows us to see excerpts from the Lucia that the Met showed in cinemas in March 2011: Edgardo’s aria “Tombe degli avi miei” preceded by a brief interview with the Maltese tenor by Renée Fleming. Finally, the last part of the concert is dedicated to a lighter repertoire, an extract from Countess Maritza de Kálmán during which Damrau, who wears a stole with floral motifs, sketches a pretty dance step, the indestructible “Granada” by a Calleja who generously deploys the extent of his means and the touching song of De Curtis “Non ti scordar di me ”, in two voices. “Don’t forget us, don’t forget the art and the artists,” said the tenor, who then expressed his compassion for the members of the now unemployed Met Orchestra and Choir, as well as for the families of the victims of the epidemic before announcing that the last piece would be a prayer for a return to normal soon. So the two artists, moved, deliver a restrained interpretation of Gounod’s Ave Maria accompanied by the Neapolitan pianist Roberto Moreschi who throughout the evening has been a sober and discreet partner.
Watch link (paid and available until November 6, 2020)
Promotional video of the concert: