The main mystery of the night was how enhusiastically numerous fans of Domingo will greet him upon entrance. The management probably had similar thoughts and decided to present all soloists before the beginning of the concert performance thus audience erupting in standing ovation and cheering at the Großes Festspielhaus for at least some 3 minutes. It seemed like well planned audience prompting activity with a first few cheerleaders. Me and a few dozen more decided to remain seated – first, it is not customary to greet performers in such way before the performance, regardless of their status, and secondly, even if admiring Domingo’s professional career over 50 years, current #MeToo case is mixing up his professsional and personal stories. We need to wait for results of investigation and then decide on the side to join.
The cast for the concert performance was superb, Piotr Beczala as Rodolfo becomes better with each appearance in the role, last night it was more emotional than The Met performance in the previous season. Mellow tone, ringing and unrestricted top notes, natural stage chemistry with partners – all you can wish your preferred tenor to deliver.
Nino Machaidze as Luisa was probably nervous in the beginning and overexerted quite a bit thus sounding more schrieky than usual. She calmed down and transformed into sensitive, heartbroken and innocent Luisa for part 2, and it was a pleasure to listen to her in the final scene.
Domingo still sounds like a bit tired tenor, and in the first scene where he meets Rodolfo they were singing just a tone apart. Nevertheless, he is compensating the misfit of the fach with actual immersion in the role, and his acting even in concert performance was very convincing.
Mezzo Yulia Matochkina as Federica had a softer voice than expected, sounded a bit quiet compared to other cast, but has very pleasant timbre. This effect also could be due to side of the auditorium seating and hall acoustics.
Tagliavini and Relyea were very good as Conte and Wurm, voices well balanced and great contributors to ensembles. The minor role of Laura was sung by Cecilia Molinari, and I was very pleased to learn that she has very pleasant timbre and good stage presence.
Mozarteum orchestra Salzburg was eager to respond to James Conlon batton, and delivered vivid and energetic reading of the score.
At the end of the performance the cast was cheered by standing ovations and loud shouting of praise for more than 10 minutes. Several audience members have approached the stage with their flower arrangements. The audience love expressions later continued at the stage door where the crowd of considerable size gathered.
The performance was really good with some minor shortcomings, I was very happy to hear Piotr Beczala who becomes one of the top performers on my to-go list, and wish all the best to Maestro Domingo in his challenging times ahead.
CONDUCTOR James Conlon
Roberto Tagliavini Il conte di Walter
Piotr Beczala Rodolfo
Yulia Matochkina Federica
Plácido Domingo Miller
Nino Machaidze Luisa
Cecilia Molinari Laura
John Relyea Wurm