Last night being la prima of Adriana Lecouvreur at Teatro alla Scala, Opera Chic had to be there. As Milan is entering warmer temperatures since the return from the Dolomites (with temperatures in the 70s -- *Fahrenheit obvs), yesterday evening called for lighter dress. I slung on a Junko Koshino little black dress that I scored from a friend, paired with Boule De Neige black stilettos, topped with a cream vintage Moroccan silk shawl and a black Yves Saint Laurent Muse bag; an ultra-chunky 1970s Rolex Submariner men's watch, and some 80s vintage Barneys blinging gold chains.
It seemed like none of the swanky Milanese regulars were out to represent last night, still on vacation in Switzerland (teh lamez0rs) or Toscana (meh), and La Scala was at half capacity, filled with mostly tourists and out-of-towners. Instead of the usually-crammed six-seat palchi, last night favored a more comfortable two. By the beginning of Act IV after the second intermission, only three-quarters of the platea (orchestra floor) was filled, and many palchi vacant. sigh. We can irresponsibly shift blame of the absence and apparent unpopularity on the fact that Easter holiday in Milan provides a giant break from work and school, allowing flight to the mountains for holiday. However, the truth is much more irritating and depressing.
As Opera Chic has already mentioned here, few snobs are more dangerous (or more misguided) than the anti-Cilea snobs. Because around here, apparently Francesco Cilea has been totally blacklisted by the kewl kids for, like, decades. He was considered like Catalani, a horribly lowbrow one-hit wonder who only ever wrote one good aria, in his case, “Io son l'umile ancella”, OC’s like most favorite, resonating aria evar (which you can hear Dessì sing on her website via real media here).
For that reason, when they asked Carlos Kleiber which opera he'd like to conduct next and he answered to the adoring Milanese snobs, "Adriana Lecouvreur, of course, a most elegant opera", and the room fell immediately silent -- only Mascagni, our beloved genius, has been more widely dissed by the alleged opera-experts here. So Cilea doesn't really get the love he deserves.
Luckily, Daniela Dessì is insanely popular here, getting countless ovations and herds of bouquets and wild cheers. Adriana Lecouvreur, though, is still box office poison at La Scala. Which is why OC had the most enjoyable evening, almost alone in her palco box (instead of sharing it with five other mouth-breathers).
Act I had us backstage at the Comédie Française, and the scene of the elegant and resonating aria, “Io son l'umile ancella”. Dessì was slow to warm (as well as the orchestra until they found their full sound around the end of Act I), and the aria did not captivate as it has in the past with OC’s favorite Adriana Mirella Freni (who sung the same staging of Adriana Lecouvreur at La Scala in 1989 with Gavazzeni conducting, found on this DVD). But the lackluster aria didn’t matter, as the loggionisti have a well-known, publicly-flaunted gigant0r crush on her, and they shouted at least four brava at the end of the aria. (look at me im in love with dessì ever since i started goign to opera ive been in love with her).
Costumes were sumptuous, and everyone was clothed in eighteenth century, French court pieces. Lighting was superb for the ailing Opera Chic (still struggling to readjust to the headaches that the Milan air always brings) and was very dim and soothing, leaving most scenes in tepid light.
Dessì, in costume (within a costume) was bedecked in long gold knickers, platform golden pumps, and a royal blue kimono/dutch robe with a tiara. Not lots of bewbage, tho. The play-within-a-play action consistently happens deep, deep, deep in the back of the stage, where a glass-cage pyramid traps the proceedings. The glass triangle occupies the stage throughout the four acts, so anyone with crappy seats in the side palchi is basically screwed, and will not catch the subtle, elegant nuances. teh suck 4u!!
Fabio Armiliato’s Maurizio was amazing, and begin adeptly with La dolcissima effigie. A full, lovely voice and great presence, the chemistry between him and Dessì was pretty hawt, obvs.
After the first pausa into Act II, we had Luciana D'Intino's Principessa di Bouillon interpretation of Acerba voluttà…O vagabonda stella, and it was powerful…as the orchestra had found their place, and the audience went insane with more brava than they had hurled at Dessì. Luciana D’Intino, as Dessì’s nemesis, garnered great respect and praise from the audience, rightfully so.
IMHO, this opera would be so much better if there were little tippy dogs running around the stage with little ruffled collars...like Adriana having on-leash a little toy breed like a little yorkshire terrier or little pomeranian running around at her heels pewping themselves. I know they drop pewp everywhere and fight/bark and are totally unpredictable and run underfoot, but couldn't they give them doggy valium or something?? These high court scenes are always bland, devoid of little doggies! OC demands a revision! I am not amused! Bring these doggie puppets to my sight!
Act III at the Hôtel de Bouillon is sumptuous, and the ballet even better. With Dormi, dormi, o pastorello!, the gorgeous ballet unfolds: Juno, Mercury...and Athena riding down from the heavens in a chariot of mechanized, stylized clouds (soooo marvelous...it is worth every every € of a €€€€ seat just to be hypnotized by those trippy puffy clouds), and ending with Venus tipping from her shell. Adriana was put in a coral-orange gown, that once again, did not flaunt the bewbage. ;__;
Act IV is Adriana in bed behind the glass pyramid, where she later wakes and sings her awesome death scene. Her Poveri fiori was outstanding, and when she was done singing, it appeared as if the loggionisti wanted to have her baby, gauging by the insane reaction. The death scene was outstanding, and resonated deeply. Her insanity was so gripping, that one almost couldn’t wait for her to expire. Die already crazy lady! *shakes fist* This final scene was also the uncovering of Dessì’s cavorting bewbs, and they were off teh hook. It was like the final unveiling of her hidden super powers, her cleavage as a delicious weapon.
The final curtain call was a well-deserved ovation for Dessì, Armiliato, and D’Intino. Endless bouquets of flowers rained-down on Dessì from the upper gallerie. Milan is a fickle b*tch, but when you are praised here, the captivating emotion and laudation is almost unfathomable...OC doesn’t endorse those trite “20 things to do before you die” lists and whatnot, but watching that kind of raw admiration and approval is definitely something to be added to that list of adventures.
- Sneak aboard a NASA Shuttle to the International Space Station √
- Race with the bulls in Pamplona √
- Seduce a Venetian gondolier √
- Get wasted on mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby √
- Hear La Scala’s loggionisti go insane for one of their coveted √
okay i can die happy k tnx bi.