Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Ana Durlovski is La Sonnambula

Amina sings of her joy (?), while Mom
makes some final alterations to her party dress.
The other day I made a comment on Earworm Opera's blog about the silliness of the plot of La Sonnambula.  I went back to double-check the reference before I started on this post, and noticed that Earworm had been talking about I Puritani! She was kind enough to respond to me without commenting on my error. Really, it was a comment on Bellini plots in general. Many of Bellini's opera plots are far-fetched, silly, and/or undramatic. 

Then I found this Stuttgart Staatsoper performance of La Sonnambula on Arte LiveWeb. Widely acclaimed (in Germany, anyway), it took me a whole year to find out about this production. Directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito update the setting and probe the background of the story and the possible interrelationships of the characters, particularly complicating the dynamic of Annina and Elvino and their arranged marriage. They add a whole lot of interest and intrigue to the story line that complement and contrast with the beautiful music. They also manage to add humor and just a bit of obligatory ickiness.

Most importantly in this production, Ana Durlovski is Amina! When I first heard her voice (offstage), I was intrigued; as she dug into the drama and coloratura of her opening scena (below), I was mesmerized. Clearly this was not going to be a stand-and-sing bel canto performance. (It’s more like a get dressed-, get undressed-, lie down-, wrestle-, run-, fend off (multiple) gropers-, get molested-and-sing, tour de force performance.) 

“Who is this Ana Durlovski?” I asked myself, as I Googled her name (I love Chrome’s option to highlight a name or word or phrase and right-click and search). Well, of course! She sang the Queen of the Night in the latest Baden Baden production of Die ZauberflöteAnd a darned good job she did, too: an elegant actress and singer.

There are only about 60 days left to see La Sonnambula on Arte Live Web. I will be back in a few days with a review of the full performance. I just want to add that Helene Schneiderman makes a great impression as Annina's fussy, uptight mom, before she even opens her mouth to sing. I get an Andrea Martin vibe from her, and with that purse, she reminds me a bit of Sophia on the Golden Girls. (Those are both good things.) Ms. Schneidermann also sang Marcellina in the Marthaler Nozze di Figaro.


  1. I haven't seen anything by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito but I'm intrigued as they are directing Un Ballo in Maschera in Toronto in February. Sounds like it could be interesting.

    1. I would be happy to see more of their work. I bet their Ballo will be quite interesting.

  2. I figured you meant I Puritani - and as you say, the comment applies to both :)

    This Sonnambula sounds cool. I am more than willing to be convinced that Bellini can be dramatically interesting. Bring it on!

    1. I think you'll like this one a lot. There is a great deal of subtext, and the singing is not bad at all. (I have to make room on my soprano pedestal for Ana.)

    2. Not to worry, Rob, Dessay's take on La Sonnambula (c. 2004):

      Displaying the kind of candor that makes publicists
      cringe, Dessay blithely announced that "La Sonnambula" "has
      the worst libretto in the world."

    3. That's pretty funny; and pretty accurate. One kinda wonders what Bellini was thinking...I bet some producers are relieved that Mme. Dessay's not doing bel canto any more.

      It really takes a clever director, though, to turn this into more than a song-fest, and I think these guys did a good job. I bet Claus Guth could have a field day with it. Now I'm all the more curious to see the widely hated Zimmerman production from the Met.


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