tue 25/06/2024

Maria di Rohan, Royal Festival Hall | reviews, news & interviews

Maria di Rohan, Royal Festival Hall

Maria di Rohan, Royal Festival Hall

Elder and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment produce the goods

Krassimira Stoyanova's Maria di Rohan was the show-stopper
So many 19th-century opera plots park themselves on fertile historical ground, amid all the colour, character and juice you could ever want, and then spend three hours picking at some anaemic daisies at the edges. It was a worry last night as I watched Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan in concert at the Royal Festival Hall.  By sidestepping the heavyweight power players of Louis XIII’s reign, the eminently operatic figures of Cardinal Richelieu (endlessly alluded to) and Marie de Medici, weren’t we also sidestepping the juice? Thankfully, not. But we did have to wait until the second half for it to flow.

So many 19th-century opera plots park themselves on fertile historical ground, amid all the colour, character and juice you could ever want, and then spend three hours picking at some anaemic daisies at the edges. It was a worry last night as I watched Donizetti’s Maria di Rohan in concert at the Royal Festival Hall.  By sidestepping the heavyweight power players of Louis XIII’s reign, the eminently operatic figures of Cardinal Richelieu (endlessly alluded to) and Marie de Medici, weren’t we also sidestepping the juice? Thankfully, not. But we did have to wait until the second half for it to flow.

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The climax of the night was the glorious singing of Stoyanova and Bros. What disappointed was the conductor's approach which is very far from the Donizetti's bel canto. If the CD version is the same as what we heard on the 7th November night - Mark Elder's version will not be perfect!

Having treasured the complete recording of the Paris version with Marianna Nicolescu and Giuseppe Morino conducted by Massimo De Bernart i was disappointed by the Opera Rara performance conducted by Mark Elder. The Grand duet finale at the end of Act Two was completely ruined for me by Elder and his singers. They rushed the whole thing into a mad scramble instead of building it up slowly and intensely as Massimo de Bernart does on the Martina Franca performance. His singers have to be heard to be believed at this point as they rise to the conclusion taking the whole finale into the stratosphere. This for me is one of the most exciting moments in the whole Donizetti canon . I was waiting for this moment and didn't get it. Also i think we should have had the Paris version which gives Maria a bigger show piece number using the cabaletta originally assigned to the tenor in the second act. It makes a better effect when sung by the soprano.

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