Luisa Miller (Opera Australia, Arts Centre Melbourne) – classicmelbourne.com.au
Luisa Miller (Opera Australia, Arts Centre Melbourne) on classicmelbourne.com.au - 21.05.2016
Opera Australia: Luisa Miller
Following two of their most frequently performed operas, Opera Australia has chosen one of their least performed as part of their sixtieth anniversary celebrations in Melbourne. Composed in late 1849 Verdi’sLuisa Miller predates three of his mainstays of operatic repertoire,Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore (1851-1853), by only a couple of years and his genius can be heard in this less mature work.
The program notes discuss at repetitive length the political constraints imposed on Verdi and his librettist Cammarano in their adaptation of Schiller’s original story. Rather than a powerful critique of social inequality, what remains is yet another story of concealed identity and a self-sacrificing maiden who falls victim to male ambition and lust and the gullibility of her romantic partner. It might be a well-trodden path to inevitable doom, but the musical narrative and the quality of the performers have turned this Luisa Miller into an enticing experience for Verdi enthusiasts.
Indeed, Nicole Car’s Luisa was as radiant as anybody who had heard her acclaimed performance in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin could have wished. With a voice of lustrous, warm even tone, at once substantial and agile, plus total dramatic commitment, she gave the role a degree of pathos that compelled the suspension of all disbelief. The letter of false self-condemnation she is forced to write in order to save her father is very different from the one she writes to Onegin in her signature role; it is more akin to the note to Alfredo in La Traviata, written by a similarly wedged Violetta, a role that may well become hers as her voice matures.
As Rodolfo, the young man Luisa knows as Carlo but who is actually the son of the local lord, Count Walter, Riccardo Massi was pretty well a perfect match. Tall, handsome and in possession of a glorious tenor voice...