After the Metropolitan Opera presented an at home gala, the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino announced it would also showcase its own similar event with some of the greatest artists around the world.
The Maggio Musicale is not as famous as the New York theater but it is currently run by Alexander Periera, one of the most popular and influential General directors around the world who has led both the Salzburg Festival and the Teatro alla Scala. So it was interesting to see what Periera and the Maggio Musicale would pull off.
The result was a mixed bag but something that gave the concert humanity. Throughout the evening one saw Periera nervous and at one point even said he did not feel comfortable speaking in Italian, which is not his native language. He also warned audiences that there would be difficulties due to the internet connection and even went as far to say that it was disastrous when they could not connect with Diana Damrau. There were numerous changes in the program as a result of the connection. But in the end his final message was what struck a chord. He said that the concert showed that “music could beat out anything.”
So rather than a review of the gala, which is rather unfair given context and the results, here are some of the memorable moments of the evening (in no particular order).
Krassimira Stoyanova & Sonya Yoncheva Sing the Same Puccini Song
It’s rare that in the same concert you hear the same aria in a concert. During the evening Yoncheva and Stoyanova performed the Puccini song “Sole e amore” showcasing very different interpretations.
Stoyanova first showcased her bright timber in the piece before Yoncheva sang with her distinctive dusky dark voice.
The gala concert had a number of surprises that were not previously announced. Among them were the inclusion of Ambrogio Maestri and Marco Armiliato and a pre-recorded excerpt from “L’Elisir d’Amore,” Luca Pisaroni singing a joyful aria “Non piu andrai” from “Le Nozze di Figaro,” and Nicola Alaimo performing a virtuoso “Granda” from Lara.
Rosa Feola, who was originally supposed to sing live at the beginning of the gala ran into technical issues and improvised a recording of “O Mio Babbino Caro.” As a result, she was added toward the end of the gala so she was given enough time to record and send the video.
A Preview of the Next Seasons
As the gala went on, Periera revealed a number of upcoming productions for the next season. He told audiences that Maria Jose Siri and Nicola Alaimo would be in a new production of “Adriana Lecoureur,” Sonya Yoncheva would perform Giordano’s “Siberia,” Michele Pertusi would star in a production of “Linda di Chamonix,” and Thomas Hampson would make his role debut as Don Alfonso in “Così fan tutte.”
He also revealed that Leo Nucci will return to the Maggio Musicale for his signature “Rigoletto.” The biggest announcement was that Lisette Oropesa would be opening the Teatro alla Scala in a new production of “Lucia di Lammermoor.”
A Moving Moment
In an outstanding rendition of Douglass Moore’s aria “Willow,” Oropesa offered audiences a refined and moving performance filled with crystal clear high notes, all sung a capella.
While the performance was pre-recorded, Oropesa also recited the text for Italian audiences in a beautiful and moving reading.
Saioa Hernandez and Francesco Pio Galasso offered the duet from Penella’s “El Gato Montes.” The two appeared live offering up a message to the Italian population before showcasing a pre-recorded performance that delighted with some dance but most of all powerful voices. It gave the gala radiance and joy.
In a pre-recorded video, Fabio Sartori sang “Nessun Dorma” from “Turandot.” And it was fitting that the final words of the aria were “Vincero, (I will win).” That final line really struck a chord, especially with the devastation and pain so many people are currently living in, due to the coronavirus pandemic.