Opera Chic just spent a delightful night in Bologna, where at Teatro Comunale, that sweet little stylish shoebox of a opera house, Daniela Dessì made her debut as Norma.
First things first, because this is just a very late night teaser pawst -- OC is tired and after the day trip & excitement she needs her 16 hours of beauty sleep now, full review coming tomorrow -- we witnessed a case of sabotage that's so sneakily evil we hadn't really thought possible.
Bravely tackling for the first time that throat-busting role, Dessì -- who tonight gave us a sensitive, interesting, beautiful portrait of Norma, with just a few little caveats we'll tell you about in the full review tomorrow -- had to tackle an appalling case of sabotage.
Just a few bars into Casta Diva, literally moments before Dessì was about to start singing the first Norma of her life, a cell phone started ringing from a box, stage right.
The electronic replica of an old skool European telephone, a loud, echoing -- and we quote here:
RRRINGGG... RRRINGGG... RRRINGGG... RRRINGGG... RRRINGGG... RRRINGGG...
Actually, after the second ring, in a surreal atmosphere where the audience sat in shock, with some spectators grumbling their disbelief, the conductor, Evelino Pidò, we clearly saw from our position, completely ashen-faced, and suddendly looking about 40 years older, desperately eyeballed Dessì, silently asking her if she wanted him to stop the music.
Dessì -- to her eternal credit -- quickly shook her head no, barged ahead and immediately began singing.
She basically sang her first
"Casta Diva, che inargenti
Queste sacre antiche piante"
while glaring in the general direction of the offender, essentially killing the cell phone with a Bluetooth burning glare.
After six, I repeat, six ringtones (another element that makes it quite clear it was a form of sabotage, who -- in good faith -- would actually leave their cell phone on for an eternity like that), the noise -- that at that point blared through the opera house so much it felt louder than the orchestra -- finally stopped.
And Dessì finished her aria, bringing the house down in a monster ovation.
More tomorrow about Dessì, who -- heroism in the face of obvious sabotage aside -- gave an excellent performance in a nightmarishly hard role. About her boytoy Fabio Armiliato, a very good Pollione (he sang with great precision and drive, even if his acting was, for our taste, a bit too sweet, even puppylike at times -- OC likes her Pollione to be a bit more thuggish). And about the revelation of the night, young American mezzo Kate Aldrich, a sensitive Adalgisa with beautiful colors, really enviable Italian diction (without overcompensating her "R"s with chainsaw-like gusto the way so many singers whose native language is English regularly do when singing in Italian) and pitch-perfect acting skills.
We'll also write moah about the not-so-great parts of our night at the Bologna opera -- Evelino Pidò's problems with shaping those sneakily difficult Bellini melodic lines, the very static staging (not saved by the late Mario Schifano's big trees frequently looming over the action) and Rafael Siwek's Oroveso, blessed with huge volume but at present it actually amplifies his shaky technique, at least in this role.
All of this, amd moah, tomorrow.
OC spaketh. Now sing along with her,
I Can't Stand It I Know You Planned It
But I'm Gonna Set It Straight, This Watergate
I Can't Stand Rocking When I'm In Here
Because Your Crystal Ball Ain't So Crystal Clear
So While You Sit Back and Wonder Why
I Got This Fu*#ing Thorn In My Side
Oh My, It's A Mirage
I'm Tellin' Y'all It's a Sabotage