Giovanna Seymour Steals the Show
Gran Teatre del Liceu
01/20/2011 - & January 25, 30, February 4*, 9, 14, 18, 23, 27, and March 5, 2011
Gaetano Donizetti: Anna Bolena
Carlo Colombara (Enrico VIII), Edita Gruberova (Anna Bolena), Elîna Garanca (Giovanna Seymour), Simón Orfila (Lord Rochefort), Josep Bros (Lord Riccardo Percy), Sonia Prina (Smeton), Jon Plazaola (Sir Harvey)
Orchestra and Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu, José Luis Basso (Chorus Director) Andriy Yurkevych (conductor)
Rafel Duran (direction), Rafel Lladó (set designer), Lluc Castells (costumes), Albert Faura (lighting designer)
E. Gruberova & E. Garanca (© Bofill)
Anna Bolena is a title of great significance in the Liceu history, it was the first title ever performed there. The last performance was more than ten years ago, during the 1992-1993 season, with some of the current singers in the same roles for this run: Edita Gruberova as Anna Bolena, and Josep Bros, as Lord Riccardo Percy.
Donizetti’s Anna Bolena depicts a queen in disgrace, Anna Bolena, and a young woman, Giovanna Seymour, who knows that the king’s heart belong to her. In this occasion, the queen was portrayed by a seasoned singer and the candidate to new queen by a younger one. After what we heard and saw, the winner, without doubt, was the new candidate.
Edita Gruberova has a solid fan base at Liceu, she has guaranteed ovations, but her singing is not exactly the same as when she first appeared in this role at Liceu. Her low range is now poorer and instead of singing she almost declaimed the notes, some of her top notes are too loud, too much fortissimo that is not in the score.
She was only was able to excel at almost the end of the performance, in the madness aria, “Al dolce guidami”. There, she offered endless pianissimi and portamenti that were well received by the enthusiastic audience.
Elîna Garanca portrayed, with her royal singing, a woman that makes you belief that she is the queen to be. She offered a very good rendition of the aria “Per questa fiamma indomita” and of her duos with Edita Gruberova and Carlo Colombara. Her voice is homogeneous from the bottom to the top, her musicality and technique are almost perfect. To sing by her side becomes a great challenge to anyone.
Josep Bros was a fine Lord Riccardo Percy. He was especially moving in the aria “Vivi tu”. His top notes sounded sometimes forced and tight but Liceu’s audience love top notes, so he deserved a great ovation for them.
Sonia Prina, as Smeton, has a fine alto range. Her low register was lower than Garanca's, and all her arias were well sung.
Carlo Colombara, as Enrico VIII, was in his finest in the duets with Elîna Garanca. Simón Orfila, as Lord Rochefort was also in good shape.
The chorus, as usual, reached a great level of achievement, no worries there. The orchestra under Yurkevych’s baton was at the service of the singers, but the wind section was not so good when Elîna Garanca sang her aria from the second act “Per questa fiamma indomita”. It’s a pity the orchestra was not able to keep the same level of achievement after Falstaff under Fabio Luisi’s conducting.
Rafel Duran’s production is poorly worked, without great scenes and with little elements but it did not disturb the plot. The set has three levels communicating by stairs and making it more difficult for the singers’ acting.
Almost all the scenes take place in the first level, which helps to hear the voices of all singers clearly. Unfortunately, this is a different story at the third level with more height and more inside the stage, some voices there cannot be heard well.
Multiple curtain calls and ovations for the two queens of the night: Edita Gruberova and Elîna Garanca.