“La Gioconda” in Salzburg: Anna Netrepko's triumphant return

Synopsis: A blind street singer (La Gioconda) loves her husband (Enzo), but loves her mother at least equally; Mother is denounced as a witch by the villain (Barnaba), but saved by the woman loved by Enzo (Laura); Gioconda gratefully and self-sacrificingly becomes the savior of love between Enzo and Laura; Laura's evil husband, the murder, the poisoning, the pseudo-poisoning of “Romeo and Juliet” – all this takes place in Venice and is somehow based on Victor Hugo. You don't need to remember the content, just remove it.

There are usually good reasons why a work is rarely played. Opera is like a cliché, a potpourri of stolen ideas.

The next problem with this Easter festival production could be a co-production partner: the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Because there director Oliver Myers directs. He tries to make the story relevant, it's mainly about attacks, about mothers selling children, you can somehow explain everything.

However, an even bigger problem is very weak personnel management. This is less so with Netrebko, as she is a multi-talented actress who is also talented as an actress. For everyone else, it leads to boredom and incredulity.

The clothes are also bad. Jonas Kaufman, Enzo, is initially unrecognizable even under his sailor hat. Anna Netrebko is rarely seen in such casual, clichéd, cheap-looking clothes. The whole thing is visually stunning.

But Netrebko impresses with a stunning vocal performance that proves he's still at the top of his craft. She inspires in this great prima donna role, which requires more vocal precision, drama and expression than stylistic subtleties, being present in all registers, with wonderfully beautiful timbre, good elevation and touching phrasing.

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Jonas Kaufman is also the lead actor, struggling more in the role than Netrepko, and it's unfortunate that he's always primarily judged by Jonas Kaufman. Subtle, lyrical, he's charming and overall more than any other tenor in the Italian field (in German, anyway).

Eve-Maud Hubeaux sings Laura brilliantly and suffers from poor direction in terms of acting. Luca Salsi (Barnaba) is a first-rate villain, powerful and unique. Agnieszka Rehlis gives her wonderful mezzo to Netrepko's blind mother, while Tarek Nazmi struggles through the role of Alvis.

Sir Antonio Pappano on stage at the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nationale di Santa Cecilia is a first-rate designer, a good storyteller, the score sparkles colorfully in his direction, but even he couldn't make it better.

The audience cheered the singers, especially Netrepko, and chastised the production.

All in all, a lot of frills for an ordinary job before the Salzburg runoff election.

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