Viva Verdi! I had forgotten what a swashbuckling bodice ripper Ernani is – and how much fun that aspect of it is. Ernani is based on Victor Hugo’s 1830 play of the same name, which was arguably the original theatrical bodice ripper. It’s a tangle of 16th Century Spanish politics and three men vying for the affections of the beautiful Elvira of Aragon.
The Met’s current revival gives a lush account of this galloping 1844 opera, with star turns from the great Placido Domingo as Don Carlo (loosely based on Spanish king Charles V), and rising star Angela Meade as Elvira, with Maestro James Levine at the baton. Domingo, known for many years as a great tenor, has been gamely performing baritone roles of late. While his voice may be a bit of a rough fit on the lower range, Domingo is one of the finest actors in opera, and he brings rich shades of ambivalence to Don Carlo.
Meade, on the other hand, is singing a role much better suited for her voice, and she sings Elvira with dazzling power, luxurious vibrato and trills galore. This is my first exposure to Meade, and I look forward to much more. Late designer/director PierLuigi Samaritani’s production is solid, if a bit grim and unimaginative (aside from a colorfully grand chamber for Elvira). It doesn’t exactly help tell the story, but doesn’t get in the way, either.
Giuseppe Verdi is one of my very favorite opera composers, this is my first Verdi at the Met and I was definitely not disappointed. Recommended.
For tickets, click here.
To learn about Jonathan Warman’s directing work, see jonathanwarman.com.