La Scala, so often the reign of the overrated and the overhyped and the overpaid, nevertheless manages to mantain a few standards of excellence: one of these areas where, really, you can't touch them, is the Chorus of the Teatro alla Scala. Then let us praise the man who brings the chorus to such superhuman standards of excellence: Maestro Del Coro Bruno Casoni, whose work is always spotless, always world class.
Riccardo Chailly and Casoni’s 100-person strong chorus played last nite at Scala for a short & sweet choralicious concert.
First up was Igor Stravinsky/Stravinskij’s Symphony of Psalms, which was too warm, too creamy, and too graceful -- it needed more edge, more hard edges, more threat. The tempi were pristine, but without that edge, it flowed together too elegantly for the at times terrifying Psalms. The audience reciprocated with a lukewarm applause.
Gioachino Rossini’s Stabat Mater was next, but we were already familiar with Chailly's Stabat Mater from his 2003 recording with the Concertgebouw Orchestra (and la Frittoli) Chailly conducted sumptuous and layered, a perfect Rossinian sound that morphed into something more ethereal at times. Not as otherworldly as the best Rossini Stabat Mater that we will ever hear (Carlo Maria Giulini, the Proms, 1981) because Chailly became a little too muscled at the end, but only via the male chorus, the tenors during Amen, in sempiterna had an ugly, rough edge for the final series of climaxes.
Soprano Svetla Vassileva she was in good form, wearing a cream layered dress and crystal encrusted high sandals. Mezzo-soprano Sonia Ganassi was the bomb, vocally, in a glittery black dress. Dmitry Korchak’s light tenor was sweet and lovely, but he couldn't quite attack those high notes so well. Bass Mirco Palazzi was good, but had a reedy quality to his voice that didn’t translate well enough against the passion of Chailly’s vision.
At the end of the night, the audience (which was a full turnout, but not packed by any means) went crazy with applause for over five minutes. Maestro del Coro Bruno Casoni got the hugest applause of the night, markedly bigger than the one for Chailly.