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Wednesday 24 July 2013

Capriccio in Concert, take II


This was the second and final performance of this duet of concert Capriccios at the ROH. To read a fuller review of the first night, click here.

Renée Fleming gave a more controlled performance this second night, with far less scooping, and there were no moments of dodgy sound production (there were a couple of small cracks on the first night). It was overall a slightly smaller scale performance, but in the final scene she was even more captivating than on the first night, getting rid of quite a lot of the forced theatrics, presenting it this time as a single dramatic and emotional arc, pain and beauty merging with obvious personal significance. Great to witness.

Gerhaher ironed out the little problems with text and lack of familiarity that he had had on the first night, again delivering a superb performance. His Olivier is moody, and even angry at times, and I have to say that this interpretation is one followed by directors quite a lot, with Flamand being the easy going, more romantic suitor. So many productions of Capriccio seem to have the Countess slightly (or more than slightly) favouring Flamand, and there is endless discussion in articles about the opera about whether that gorgeous final scene contains clues as to Strauss' preference (e.g. the banality of the final words compared to the sublimity of the music). The articles miss the point of the ambiguous ending I think, and directors who fail to make Olivier as attractive as Flamand as a character weaken the ending. The message of the piece is for me somewhat distorted if one is clearly more appealing to Madeleine than the other.

Unfortunately Andrew Staples was sounding a little hoarse on the second night, though he still sang well despite this. Peter Rose didn't seem to tire at all as La Roche, giving an even more impressive account of his monologue than the previous evening, and Bo Skovhus too seemed musically more in his stride as the Count. Everyone else sang well. The orchestra were a little more on top of the score this evening, but some of the magical sparkle of the first night was missing. Still, had I not heard Davis with the ROH Orchestra on the first night, I would have been very pleased with this performance.

I mentioned a significant cut in my first night review, but were there other small cuts? I don't remember hearing mention of who gets to be the tenor in the piece (though La Roche still gets his line about being the basso buffo), but I'm always reticent to say for sure on these things, because I may just have missed it because my attention was on the orchestra or something.

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