On this cold Milan night, Ferruccio Furlanetto brought the powah to La Scala, and thawed the hoars frost from our frosty hoars. Don't ask me what that means because I'm not tellin. La Scala begrudgingly greeted OC in layers and layers of Boule de Neige and vintage Brooks Brothers black cashmere, topped with a Stephen Jones hat (one of Anna Piaggi's favs, too, and she is never wrong).
We were surprised to see the house only 2/3 filled considering Furlanetto made his professional debut on the Scala stage almost 30 years ago in Verdi's Macbeth and has since then bustin' some serious bass all over the world. But that's what we've sadly come to expect from a traditional Milanese audience that is scared of zee Roossian repertory because it sounds like Communist or something. Not that Ferruccio "I Got Teh Powah" Furlanetto didn't show it off well. His cancellation from last month hardly took a toll on his mecha ninja vocal powah, and he rattled the rafters with his trademark boomin bass. Stately in a frac and shiny patent leather shoes, he capped his Russian pronunciation with gleeful skill, proving that he was totally worthy of being the only Italian to ever sing Boris Godunov at the Mariinsky (where Opera Chic once mopped the floors before being discovered and launching her international career, but that's another story).
The Russian invasion provided a gorgeous and varied playlist, filled with a moody, melancholy longing that marked the music. All so emo, we were almost expecting Furlanetto to show up with a Chanel Black Satin manicure and a white vinyl belt. Furlanetto breezed through the Rachmaninov and Mussorgsky set list, with help from a podium full o' sheet music (and weird phonetic rendering of the intricacies of Russian diction). Pianist Igor Tchetuev was an adept match for Furlanetto's powah, hitting the keys with a lovely sforzando, never whaling on the keys [ed: thru his blowhole] like a hopped-up Barenboim. At the curtain calls, we were touched to see Furlanetto embrace him like a father to a son. He added only two bis to the evening -- both Tchaikovsky pieces -- the first one being “Blagoslavlyayu vas, lesa”, which was suffused with a tenderness and beauty that hadn’t been fully showed-off during the formal recital.
After the pause, Furlanetto came out in an off the shoulder pink gown by Zac Posen and pair of Balenciaga sandals, size 13. ok ok. Just making sure that you’re paying attention here…
He threw himself into the whole performance, shaping each passage with great emotion, shifting from allegro to adagio to andante easily – a giant bonus of his selected Russian repertoire – all sustained through his undeniable power. His voice, understandably, is tired, and his technique has slid into a zone that leaves a bit to be desired, with plenty of strain at the top. But he’s paid his dues, and makes up for it through his sheer force and energy and charisma and nicely burnished hues.
Short and sweet, the recital was packed full of a creamy bass who still gots tha powah and made Italians -- well those who care about such things -- proud around the world. He flexed his vocal muscle with great sentiment, and pwnd the stage with his towering presence. We’re now going to play a few rounds of Tiger Woods PGA 08 on the xbox in deference to Furlanetto, a very keen golfer with a perfectly adequate handicap for someone with such a hectic schedule, who’s prolly dying to hit up the green right about now.