Barbara and I saw *Luisa Miller* at the Met on 4/9/18. It's a Verdi opera I'd never heard before, so that made it worth a visit, plus I'm very fond of the two leading singers, soprano Sonya Yoncheva and tenor Piotr Beczała. And Placido Domingo, to boot! This opera isn't done very often, so I thought I'd better see it while I can.
I loved it. The opera itself is very strong - - the program notes called it a transitional work, from Verdi's early period into his middle period. You could put it in a less charitable way and say that he's trying out things in this opera that he does better later on.
I don't know the last time I went to an opera where I didn't know the story. Maybe this was the first time ever? I didn't even know if it had a happy or tragic ending. I was hoping it would have a happy ending but (spoiler alert!) it didn't quite turn out that way.
The production is from 2001, though it sure did look like it was from the era of the previous production, the late 60s. Barbara said, "There's so much BROWN!" We decided that brown must have been the primary export of this area of the Alps. It was a little drab to look at, but I'd rather have that than having to sit through a misguided Director's Concept.
Sonya Yoncheva is the soprano I heard as Tosca back in January - - my brother Patrick is crazy for her, and we had a lovely visit with her backstage after *Tosca.* She was even better as Luisa, this role showed off more colors of her voice. She was girlish, she was warm and passionate, she was aghast, she was dead! I was very impressed with how beautifully she sang, especially with how smartly she used her chest voice. She touched it, she made some somewhat gutsy sounds, but she didn't go full tilt boogie down there. She sang with her own voice, she wasn't trying to be Fiorenza Cossotto.
Beczała sang his character's aria, "Quando le sere al placido," at the Met's 150th anniversary gala last spring, and it was the best singing of the night. Oh dear Lord he sounded glorious.
He was just as glorious in the context of the opera, beautiful singing non-stop, all night long. Always with great taste and a true sense of the style. He's a real treasure in this rep.
Domingo was the biggest surprise of the night. I don't want to go all wikipedia on your ass, but the dude is 77 years old. I don't know of another singer, EVER, who has had such a long career, singing leading roles at major opera houses all that time. He switched to baritone a few years ago, and I've heard a few grumblings here and there about how we'd be better off with a REAL baritone in these parts, not with a past-his-prime tenor who can't sing the high notes anymore. Well, that was not the case in this opera. He sounded beautiful from top to bottom, and more importantly, he gave a profoundly moving performance. He played Yoncheva's father, and having the role played by such a supreme performer made you realize that the central relationship of the opera is not Luisa and her boyfriend, it's Luisa and her father. He knocked me out, and the audience went crazy for him at his curtain call.