in Italian with English surtitles. Sponsored (1990) by The Friends of
rousing, barnstormer of a piece, Attila races through a plot that cheerfully
rewrites history to terrific musical effect. There are hints of the
dramatic richness which was about to flower in Verdi's next work, Macbeth
- which is staged later this season - but what is really remarkable
about this opera is its irresistible energy. The action is tied together
by thundering orchestral writing, massive patriotic crowd scenes and
a gutsy sense of good versus evil. The last of these is personified
by Attila himself, the rampaging barbarian who nevertheless achieves
a surprising nobility. Elijah Moshinsky's dynamic staging, designed
by Michael Yeargan with Robert Bryan's colour-drenched lighting, makes
a welcome return having spearheaded a major Verdi revival upon its first
appearance in 1990.
Verdi expert Mark Elder conducts, with the title role shared by basses
Orlin Anastassov and Paata Burchuladze. Anthony Michaels-Moore sings
the defiant Ezio with Maria Guleghina scaling the heights of the avenging
heroine Odabella whose lover, Foresto, is sung by Franco Farina."
Website reviewers do not at present feature on the Royal Opera House's
general press list, even though ever increasingly many readers of the
Nationals access opera reviews on the Internet, but Seen&Heard was
invited to see Toshio Hosokawa's Vision of Lear at the ROH's Linbury
Studio. An opportunity to preview Elijah Moshinsky's colourful production
of Attila at its dress rehearsal the next morning was therefore welcome.
The Saturday morning audience, which completely filled the Opera House,
was warned as usual that it was not a 'performance' and that singers
might choose to 'mark' their parts. In the event, none appeared to do
so before the assembled cognoscenti of The Friends of Covent Garden
(who sponsored the original production) and no doubt the cast respected
this knowledgeable audience and gave their best.
Whilst a formal review would not be in order, no offence should be
caused by assuring visitors to Seen&Heard that this was an invigorating
morning, a deserving revival of an excellent production free of eccentricity,
and greatly enjoyed by a regular reviewer as seen (for once) from the
centre-back of the Upper Amphitheatre (i.e. the Gallery or 'Gods', where
one got to know the operas in student youth) and where sightlines are
excellent, the sound is vivid, balanced and focused, the seats are comfortable
with good knee-room, and everything comes together most satisfyingly.
This presentation, 12 years on, has been well prepared and exudes confidence,
with a strong cast supported by Mark Elder's judicious and idiomatic
conducting - not an authentic history lesson, but a Verdian drama in
which all the elements are balanced to give pleasure and satisfaction.
Peter Grahame Woolf
6 | 14 | 19 | 22 | February at 7.30pm
9 February at 1pm; 16 February at 7pm
Phone: +44 (0)20 7304 4000 Fax: +44 (0)20 7212 9460 or Online Booking