Rolando Villazón and Yannick Nézet-Séguin Seduce Montreal Audience
Maison symphonique de Montréal
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: Le nozze di Figaro, K. 492: Overture – Don Giovanni, K. 527: “Il mio tesoro intanto” – Per pietà, non ricercate, K. 420
Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky:Eugene Onegin, opus 24: Polonaise & and “Kuda, kuda” – Marche slave, opus 31
Jules Massenet: Orchestral Suite No. 5, “Scènes napolitaines” – Le Cid: “O souverain, ô juge, ô père”
Giuseppe Verdi: La traviata: Act III Prélude – Oberto: “Ciel, che feci!” – La forza del destino: Overture – Luisa Miller: “O fede negar potessi... Quando le sere al placido”
Rolando Villazón (tenor)
Orchestre Métropolitain, Yannick Nézet-Séguin (conductor)
R. Villazón (© ITV/REX)
What a zinger of a concert! Yannick Nézet-Séguin and his Orchestre Métropolitain pulled out all the stops to close their 2014-15 season. The orchestra, which has 54 permanent musicians, was increased to 81 players for the occasion. The maestro’s good friend, Franco-Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón, even took time out from his stint as Don Ottavio at London’s Royal Opera House to join them. The program comprised blocks of vocal and orchestral selections by four composers – Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Massenet and Verdi.
For his first aria, Villazón chose “Il mio tesoro intanto” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni, followed by the concert aria “Per pietà, non recercate”. His small voice sounded nervous and dry at first, except in the low register, but it warmed up as the afternoon progressed. His expressivity and attention to interpretation and detail, however, made up for this. He next sang “Kuda, kuda” from Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin with warmth and tenderness that almost brought tears to the eyes. From this moment on he had the audience in the palm of his hand.
After intermission Villazón sang “O souverain, ô juge, ô père” from Massenet’s Le Cid with poignancy, power and a throbbing vibrato; “Ciel, che feci!” from Verdi’s rarely-performed Oberto with a single sustained low note that was breathtaking; and “O fede negar potessi... Quando le sere al placido” from Luisa Miller with a rich tone and timbre. The end of the aria was marred, however, by some cracked high notes.
Nevertheless, Nézet-Séguin and the Orchestre Métropolitain were the real stars of the concert. Despite the additional 27 musicians there was not a false note to be heard in their six orchestral selections. It was if we were hearing the mighty Philadelphia. Although the sound in the opening Overture from Le nozze de Figaro was muddy (as is often the case with Classical composers in this hall), it was tight, spirited and uplifting. With all subsequent selections, Nézet-Séguin drew magnificent sounds from the orchestra – restrained but well-shaped rhythms and silky tone from the cellos in the Act III Polonaise from Eugene Onegin; and heart-rending pathos in the Act III Prelude of La traviata. But it was the big numbers – Marche slave, the Scènes napolitaines and the Overture to La forza del destino that really brought down the house. So many delights! – brilliant brass, pulsating rhythms, exquisite woodwinds, dramatic pauses and most riveting of all, Nézet-Séguin slicing the air with his baton to generate blistering climaxes – a triumphant end to Yannick’s 15th season with the Orchestre Métropolitain.
Earl Arthur Love