Now that the mighty have fallen -- Netrebko & Schrott [née Villazón] are sooo not viable for soooo many reasons, while the Alagnas have quietly backpedaled into Backpedalville, the other opera couples don't really get us hard (Borodina & Abdrazakov), while all the old valentines are long gone (Callas & di Stefano, Freni & Pavarotti, Corelli & Nilsson) -- we're looking for another pair to take the crown & sceptre. This past Wednesday night at Milan's Auditorium, opera powah couple Fabio Fabulous Armiliato and Daniela Delicious Dessì brought a fresh aria to an eager audience.
The two swooped into town, between performances, to gift the sadly struggling laVerdi orchestra a concerto straordinario. The Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi holds a special place in our <3s, as it is comprised of the kids that still hold the reverberations of Maestro Giulini's loving retirement lessons, and we're always keen to support them. As the orchestra began with Verdi's overture from I Vespri Siciliani, the night was off to a nice start.
Time for the first aria, and Armiliato came out on the stage singing from Verdi's Otello, "Dio mi potevi scagliar", looking slick in a black suit and a black button-up shirt, with super shiny patent leather shoes. His acting was pensive and concentrated. Armiliato made a fine Otello, (and one that most fans were eager to sample) with a forceful demeanor, luscious voice, and memorable drama.
Second aria was from Verdi's Il Trovatore, “Tacea la notte placida” sung by Daniela. She came on stage wearing a gorgeous gown, a classic Vera Wang wedding style in pale pink. The bustier was tight, with an adorable corseted back, and a thick pink silk ribbon wound through. The full skirt was gathered with layers and layers of heavy fabric. Only inches from her b3wbs rested a gorgeous diamond necklace, tiered with pendants, and matching bling on her wrist. Her voice bloomed and flourished from the warm wood of the gorgeous auditorium. Then the orchestra played again, with Verdi's La forza del destino sinfonia. Then the two came out together to sing from Verdi's Otello, “Già nella notte densa”.
Last October 2007 was the last time we saw the two sing together, when we had traveled to Vienna for the dynamic duo in Puccini's Manon Lescaut at the Wiener Staatsoper, which was only disappointing via Robert Carsen's faulty vision. Of course, there are perks to singing with your significant other -- the comfort, the chemistry, the trust, and synchronicity -- and these two know the drill. As the orchestra warmed the opening measures, Daniela caressed Fabio's face tenderly, which he reciprocated by taking her hand and kissing it. Playful Daniela picked at Fabio's jacket, tugging at a black cloth handkerchief that needed straightening. They sang locked in an embrace, holding hands, and fitted against each other like cutlery. At the end of the aria, they lovingly exchanged a quick, supportive kiss on the lips, Fabio planted one on her forehead, and they bathed in their deserved applause. They sang tenderly, with technique at full throttle.
We broke for 20 minutes so the singers could rest a bit, and then the fresh faces of la Verdi played their version of the Intermezzo from Puccini's Manon Lescaut to start the second half.
Then out came Armiliato ready to tear into his next aria, which hit with the force of a lightning bolt. He launched into the Improvviso from Giordano's Andrea Chénier and stunned the audience with his skills, which exited to the most thunderous applause and bravi. His voice filled the auditorium with ease, washing the hall without breaking a sweat.
Next was Daniela's turn, who had drastically changed her former pink froth into a smart black number. She showed-off a slimmer silhouette than what we've seen in recent years, firmer arms and slender waist (must have been working out but the out-of-control b3wbs are still there in all their impressive glory, good for her). Her dress was a straight long skirt to the floor, made from rows and rows of thin lace, while a black satin bow demarcated the bodice from the skirt. The top formed a deep v-neck with meaty straps, showcasing the same diamond necklace from the first half. She looked stunning, and showed off her secksy black stilettos while walking astride to (the not-always-flawless) conductor Marco Boemi.
She set it off with Verdi's La forza del destino "Pace mio Dio" and gave us a lesson in perfection, her voice growing more beautiful with every passage. She was a storm of bottled emotion with dramatic sweeps of her hands. After lots of cheers the orchestra enjoyed themselves with Ponchielli's Gioconda, Danza delle ore, with such energy that at one point, Boemi was pop-locking on the podium. Best moment of the night.
Then the couple came out for their last listed duet, which was Giordano's Andrea Chénier “Vicino a te s'acqueta". Again, the chemistry and tenderness between the two singers was impossible to deflect, and so genuine. As they finished their last aria, their voices already filling the auditorium for the past two hours, the audience exploded.
In the end, they gave three bis. The first they gave together in duet, the Brindisi from Verdi's La Traviata...a playful, sweet round with the orchestra filling in for the missing chorus. Corny, kinda cheesy, yeah, but hay...
Then came out Fabio for his solo bis, which he chose as Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot. Great, but it proved to be the fertile breeding ground for the only abberation of the evening, as Armiliato broke the last note of the aria's last "Vincerò" and dropped it like it was hawt. No matter, as the audience bolstered his over-extension and eagerly applauded before the end of the piece, like devoted sports fans at an injured player taken off field.
Daniela ended the evening on a glorious note and Callasized "Poveri fiori" from Cilèa's Adriana Lecouvreur. Her pronunciation was superb ("soave e forte bacio di morte") showing us her many years of following the old skool by not eating your words when you sing.
After the performance, as it was already 11pm, Fabio and Daniela went into overtime by signing autographs in the downstairs lobby of Auditorium for their adoring fans and selling their duet disc. OC, although certainly an adoring fan, had to rush out at the last note of Poveri Fiori, and was unable to meet teh superstars. But it's all good. OC had a Dirty Dancing dream that night. Armiliato was Johnny Castle, Daniela was Penny Johnson, and OC was Baby (of course)...and we all danced the drrrrty mambo and ate watermelon. I HAD TEH TIME OF MY LIFE! [warning: youtube link].