I barely know Marina Poplavskaya, but sufficiently to say she is no
Anna Netrebko. Wednesday night, one Russian soprano replaced the other
as Donna Anna in the Royal Opera's "Don Giovanni," and I took a less than
full measure of the performance from outside the house. (Having arrived
to London with last week's Donna Anna shuffle in San Francisco still
fresh in mind.)
Outside meant Covent Garden, the former vegetable emporium, every inch
covered with opera-hungry humanity last night for one of the Royal Opera's
"Big Screen" presentations, BP's equivalent of New York's and San
Francisco's "simulcasts," but much bigger in size - "Don Giovanni" for
example went out to 34 screens all around the country.
With Netrebko still out with a (throat?) infection, Poplavskaya to
the rescue, doing well enough, exhibiting a big, bright voice, but not
a particularly beautiful one, quite without the colors and excitement in
Netrebko's performances. This, however, is more of a guess than certainty
because the outdoor sound in Covent Garden was way too pushed and noisy
to evaluate a voice properly. The sound in San Francisco's much larger
Civic Center, even before the use of the Koret Media Center, was decidedly
superior. As to the other 33 Big Screen telecasts last night, perhaps
ear-witnesses there could complete the picture.
Visually, both the production and the telecast were fine, even with the
different (and not particularly smooth) projection technology. The cast
of no big names (beyond Netrebko) but all-around competence - Don Giovanni:
Erwin Schrott, Commendatore: Reinhard Hagen, Don Ottavio: Michael Schade,
Donna Elvira: Ana Maria Martinez, Leporello: Jonathan Lemalu, Masetto:
Matthew Rose, Zerlina: Sarah Fox.
Tonight, there should be no acoustical problems, listening to "Fidelio"
with Karita Mattila and Endrik Wottrich, inside ROH.
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