|Vitalij Kowaljow - Agnieszka Rehlis - Jonas Kaufmann -Pinchas Steinberg - Saioa Hernandez - LudovicTezier - Deborah Humble - at conclusion of "La Gioconda"
Image Jansson J. Antmann
Pinchas Steinberg – Directed by Warwick Doddrell
Design by Jason Morphett
Concert Hall - 9th and 12th
on 9th August reviewed by BILL STEPHENS
|Jonas Kaufmann in "La Gioconda"
It was a
night of spectacular opera. The spectacle came not from lavish sets and
costumes, but from the glorious voices of some of the best opera singers in the
world, including the legendary tenor, Jonas Kaufmann, making a role debut, supported
by the mighty Opera Australia Orchestra and full Chorus directed by Pinchas
|Pinchas Steinberg conducting "La Gioconda"
sets and costumes, with the opera presented in concert mode, the soloists
making their entrances and exits in front of the orchestra, with the chorus
seated in tiered rows behind; the audience was able to concentrate on the
artistry of the singers and the beauty of Ponchielli’s majestic score,
punctuated as it is with glorious solos, duets and choruses, with surtitles
providing the information necessary to follow the gist of the turgid storyline.
Making her first
Sydney Opera House appearances in the title role of La Gioconda, Spanish
soprano, Saioa Hernandez was absolutely captivating. Tall and elegant with a commanding presence
and silken soprano, Hernandez immediately established herself as the centre of
the opera, among a cast of superb voices.
Deborah Humble as Gioconda’s cherished mother, La Cieca, charmed with her moving rendition of “Voce de donna o
|Saioa Hernandez in "La Gioconda"
Agnieszka Rehlis, as Laura Badoero, Gioconda’s rival for Enzo Grimaldi’s
affections shared a thrilling duet with Hernandez, “L’amo come il fulgor
creato”, in which both women argue as to which has the greater love for Enzo.
Kaufmann as Enzo, was certainly worth fighting over, and while sounding just a
little tentative at this performance, still lived up to expectations by
offering a glorious interpretation of his solo “Cielo e mar”.
hateful Barnaba, Gioconda’s spurned suitor, French baritone, Ludovic Tezier, thrilled
with his threatening presence and the steely timbre of his voice, particularly with
his first act solo “O Monumento”.
|Agniezska Rehlis (Laura) - Jonas Kaufmann (Enzo) - Saioa Hernandez (La Gioconda)
Pinchas Steinberg (Conducting)
Badoero’s husband, Alvise, Ukrainian bass, Vitalij Kowaljow, chilled with the
price he demanded she pay for her unfaithfulness with his aria “Si! Morir ella
hall setting allowed a fascinating view of the care taken by Pinchas Steinberg
to insure each of the soloists was wrapped in the most superbly balanced sound
from the huge orchestra and chorus. The audience could also share the joy he took in allowing those same
resources let rip at the appropriate times. This was most evident in the superb
rendition of the “Dance of the Hours” which provided an orchestral highlight in
the third act.
performance was being presented as a highlight of the 50th
Anniversary of the Sydney Opera House there was a spectacular fireworks display
on the harbour during interval. However not even the fireworks could match the
stunning vocal pyrotechnics on display in the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall
stage at this unforgettable performance.
Hero image: Jansson J. Antmann - All other images by Keith Saunders
This review first published in the digital edition of CITY NEWS on 11.08.23