Matilde di Shabran - Royal Opera House, 6 November 2008
My third and last visit to this production. And possibly - who knows? - the last time I'll ever see it. Until the trees start sprouting tenorinos, it's an opera that needs nothing less than Mr Rossini Pants himself, Juan Diego Flórez, not to mention the equally gifted soprano that Aleksandra Kurzak has provided here.
It's fascinating to see how performances change from night to night.
This was the eighth, and the acting, particularly from JDF, was so much more assured than it had been earlier. Just little things, an angry glance, a simpering smile, these made all the difference. Sadly he again sounded rather tired and weedy in the first act, just as he had on the opening night.
But Alfonso Antoniozzi (Isidoro) and Carlo Lepore (Ginardo) were more on the mark vocally than either of the previous performances I heard. Antoniozzi has had a rough ride from the critics. It's true his singing is far from spot-on, but in many ways he held the show together with his exquisitely-timed comedy. And it's only fair to point out he got a huge ovation from the audience each night.
Not that front row guest the inscrutable Mr Hytner seemed to care one way or the other. No expression whatsoever. And he never made it back for the second act - who knows why. Carlo Rizzi's conducting perhaps? It was the most disappointing part of the evening, seemingly careless more often than not, and frequently drowning out the singers. Perhaps the weeks of endless tiddlypom have finally taken their toll.