Strong women on DVD

I recently purchaseda blu-ray player and to celebrate I bought two recently released performances
featuring strong female roles.  I’ve beensampling both and while I haven’t had time to watch them in their entirety I thought I’d put some observations down.  The Macbeth is from the Opéra de Paris and stars the wonderful Violeta Urmana as the Lady.  In the scenes that I have watched she tears up the stage despite her less than flattering costumes.  Her voice has wonderful amplitude and she steers it nimbly around the coloratura.  Sadly she ducks the high D-flat in the sleepwalking scene but otherwise, from what I have seen, it’s a wonderful performance.

The Troyens I actually saw in Valencia with a slightly different cast.  The production, compared to the dreadful Poutney one I saw in Berlin, now seems to be quite good although at the time I didn’t like it that much because I felt that the spectacle did
not allow much room for characterization and this is an opera about personalities above all.  What it does
have is some of the best choral singing I have heard on an opera stage.  The Cor de la Generalitat Valenciana are absolutely superb.  Elisabete Matos is a splendid Cassandre with French that would put some native speakers to shame.  Still, I don’t think I will ever hear anyone sing the line ‘nous méprisons votre lâche ménace’ the way that Jessye Norman does.  Daniela Barcellona is on much better form than she was in Berlin
and makes much more of the words.  Sadly, I can’t say the same for Lance Ryan.  Despite being Canadian (from someplace in the Prairies I believe), his French is awful and it’s quite clear that he doesn’t actually know what he is singing about.  He’s a nice-looking guy but I find the voice
really quite unpleasant to listen to.  Having seen the production on stage I would say for anyone looking for the best solo singing in the three leading roles to go for the Levine DVD with La Norman, La Troyanos and Domingo. Gardiner’s one is a good all-rounder but this new DVD is
definitely worth a look for Matos, Barcellona and the chorus.



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