Caballé, still the Queen
Jules Massenet: Cléopâtre
Montserrat Caballé (Cléopâtre), Montserrat Martí (Octavie), Marita Solberg (Charmion), Franck Ferrari (Marc-Anthoine), Nikolai Baskov (Spakos), David Menéndez (Ennius), Javier Galán (Amnhès) y Enric Martínez-Castignani (Severus)
Teatro Real Orchestra and Chorus. Miguel Ortega (Conductor)
Everything in Massenet´s Cléopâtre was devoted to the appearance in the Teatro Real of Montserrat Caballé, from the concert version to the attitude of the rest of the voices, always around the main character, around the great soprano who demonstrated, as Cléopâtre, that she is still the Queen.
Caballé keeps an impeccable technique, articulates the notes in a marvelous way and her medium voice win the hearts of a public who forgives in the diva things that would never forgive in others. Some of these things were in Cléopâtre a deficient vocalization, an uncomfortable vibrato and some broken notes. Her beginning was cold, even worrying, but, as the work was advancing, there were good moments to emphasize like the Third Act duo with Marc-Anthoine, where Franck Ferrari accommodated his singing to the one what stated the Queen. The best was the asp´s bite aria ‘Le triumvir est mort! ... Tout est bien!’, where Caballé exhibited the charisma what turned her in one of the best sopranos of the 20th century.
Her daughter, Montserrat Martí, was adequate but not brilliant in the role of Octavie, under the eminent shadow of the mother. The French baritone Ferrari was among the best of night, his emphatic voice sounded well, sometimes a little closed, sometimes cut in the care of not to be over the Queen Cléopâtre. Marita Solberg has a beautiful accent and she exhibited it making a graceful and good Charmion. Other fine contribution was made by the tenor Baskov, in the past a Russian pop star, who surprised by his noticeable tone and power. Were notable in their small roles Menéndez as Ennius, Galán as Amnhès and Martínez as Severus.
There were several the goals of Miguel Ortega. First, his conduction of the orchestra was luminous, taking out the best of the ensemble in this exquisite Massenet´s score. The chorus demonstrated a good improvement, with a big quality in the high voices. Also was a right choice to place the orchestra in the pit, specially when it was a concert version of the work and, even more, the Ortega´s generous resolution of turning down the volumes, tempering the times, all to let that Caballé could display her shine, the magnificence of an indisputable queen.