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A Levantine Ulisse

Opéra de Lausanne
02/24/2002 -  et 26, 27 February, 1, 3 March 2002
Claudio Monteverdi: Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria
Kresimir Spicer (Ulisse), Marijana Mijanovic (Penelope), Rachid Ben Abdeslam (Umana Fragilita), Paul-Henry Villa (Il Tempo, Nettuno), Katalin Károlyi (La Fortuna, Melanto), Cyril Auvity (Telemaco), Christophe Laporte (Pisandro, Feace), Andreas Gisler (Anfinomo), Bertrand Bontoux, Zachary Stains (Eurimaco), Joseph Cornwell (Eumete), Robert Burt (Iro)
Les Arts Florissants, Solistes et Choeurs de l'Académie Européenne de Musique d'Aix-en-Provence et des Arts Florissants, Wiliam Christie (Conductor)
Adrian Noble (Director), Anthony Ward (Set and Costumes).

The appearances of Wiliam Christie and his Arts Florissants in the lake Leman area is always a treat. Christie has already appeared a few times at the regretted Montreux Festival - which has been, horribile dictu, put into grave on the 1st of March 2002 - and in Montreux's lavish Auditorium Stravinski. Together with the Académie européenne de musique du Festival d'Aix-en-Provence Christie and Adrian Noble have put on to stage a lively and colourful Ulisse. Noble comes from the Shakespearian world and, in the past, he directed the artistic season of the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratdford. It is, in deed, ideal to have a such a direction for a baroque opera like Ulisse that can be ideally played in a theatrical style. Playful and joyful gang of kings, courtiers and simple folk in a Mediterranean blue sky setting, greek jars and vases and sand, what more is needed. Not a complicated set but very efficient, especially when Minerva flies with Telemaco on her flying chariot: a blue sail to represent the sky. And before Jupiter appears a fibre optic rain comes down from above, followed by the God in turban and oriental clothes sitting on a flying carpet. All this gives a Levantine fragrance to this performance.

The Arts Florissants sound good, measured and well balanced. Christie remains at the harpsichord and does not even need to point his finger, all is perfectly prepared, there is no need for a conductor.

The protagonists are as good at acting as at singing. The Serbian, Marijana Mijanovic, as Penelope had a brilliant voice, truly baroque. Ulisse (Kresmir Spicer) was a bit too Verdian, he does not really have the baroque touch. Katalin Károlyi was also remarkable as La fortuna and Melanto as well as Olga Pitarch in the robes of Amore and Minerva. The performance was a pure delight.

Zoltan Bécsi



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