Daphne (Teatro La Fenice)

Daphne (Teatro La Fenice)

Director: Tiziano Mancini Cast: June Anderson, Roberto Saccà, Scott MacAllister
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Daphne (Teatro La Fenice) 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just finished watching Paul Curran's production of "Daphne" for La Fenice with June Anderson. While I enjoyed her Lucia some 20 years ago, and several other roles, I never became a real fan of Ms. Anderson's. I was, therefore, stupified at what a completely beautiful performance - breathtaking really - she gives as one of Strauss's oddest heroines. Anderson, whether singing or silent was ever a riveting presence. The voice is firm and beautiful, the high notes - even those wild exposed "out of nowhere" notes Strauss complicates the role with, are spot on, radiant with no lurching towards them, just "there" every time in perfectly executed attacks. All I could do was say "wow!" A simply designed set by Kevin Knight (who also did the excellent costumes) - a large wooden circle laid into the center of the stage floor with (I don't know what you call this) an enormous ring surrounding it - provided plenty of space and managed to convey a place of mystery. Midway, during Apollo's outburst, the center circle rises and moves at various angles as the outer one rises high above it in wild (almost dangerous) configurations as Daphne and others wend their way over and around it - beautifully synchronized to the music - creating an almost liquid-like effect. This staging does not allow Daphne's physical transformation into an "actual" Laurel tree (she doesn't even have a single costume change from her white pajama-type pants, white slippers and long white calf-length vest), but rather, through Anderson's graceful, almost balletic-fluidity, she navigates the constantly shifting circles of the set with a queenly elegance, striking poses beautifully lit and highly affecting. Even sans tree-costume, Anderson makes you believe in Daphne's total transformation. I can in all honesty say this was not at all what I was expecting. Anderson was 53 at this taping and while that is no longer "old" for a soprano, it would seem to be pushing it for this role and I cannot praise her beautiful performance enough. I have gooseflesh even writing this! As Gaea, Birgit Remmert is, likewise, tremendous. Firm of voice, elegant in stature and movement she reminded me a bit of a young Troyanos. Both top notes and low (and Strauss is almost sadisticly fiendish in the vocal requirements for Gaea) she hits everything - at times sounding more baritone than mezzo. It's a rich, excellent performance and Remmert's air of physical lightness contrasted perfectly with Anderson's dreamily gloomy heroine. Roberto Sacca's Leukippos began fairly well, but only grew better moment-by-moment and by his final scene was heartwrenching and in glorious voice. His violent death provides some of the best lighting effects as Daphne watches in horror. Here, Anderson's bemoaning of his death - both in voice and action as she falls atop his lifeless body, stroking his head, arm, and fingers was nearly unbearable to watch and got me pretty moist around the eyes. Apollo was Scott MacAllister and in a role that doesn't require much subtlety, he provided none. It's a big sound and he sounded fearless in the music but (and this could be just me) I felt at any minute the voice would pop and break as, while fearless sounding, he never sounded particularly comfortable up there. That he got through this bear of a role in one piece - and in tune - is no simple feat, so kudos to him as well. The rest of the cast all seemed up to the challenge as well and Stefan Anton Reck conducts the La Fenice forces with great shaping of Strauss's score. The impossibly high, delicate string writing at the end has a bit of scratchiness to it (doesn't it almost always?) and there's a rough spot or two in the difficult horn music, but these truly are minor quibbles when measured against the whole. The chorus, all of the extras, in the Dionysian celebration let loose and the stage is ablaze with color. During the tra