Festival has a star productions and the star names to attract more audience.. This year's star names include the one and only Anna Netrebko. Her Salzburg La Traviata production was extraordinary, the best La Traviata I ever saw: read the review from here. This year's performance was the concert version of Adriana Lecouvreur; one of the best verismo examples. Her husband Yusifzov played Maurizio, Anita Rachvelishvili played The Princess and Nicola Alaimo played Michonnet. For the 31 July performance, Anna Netrebko cancelled due to a cold and Hui Han replaced her. For these kind of activities, cold is the enemy, if you purchased the tickets months ago, just for seeing Netrebko, it would be very bad luck.
About the Opera
Verismo is an opera movement of realism. Instead of gods, mythological figures or kings, verismo operas focus on the real people. There are some examples that are derived from the historical figures; Puccini's Tosca, Giordano's Andrea Chénier and Cilea's Adriana Lecouvreur.
Adriana Lecouvreur was an actress in 1700s that has a relationship with a high figure and has a suspectable death. She has so many admirers, including Voltaire who faught for her to be burried in a decent cemetary. Her story was very popular in the 19th century. First it became a play and it was specially written for the title role actress Elisa Rachel Felix who has a similar story. Audience started to perceive the play as it's about Rachel herself. They saw Rachel speaking but they hesitate if it the play or Rachel's own feelings; just like I Pagliacci, but not intendedly.
In the plot, we have 'play in play' moments just like Pagliacci. First one is the Adriana's performance as Roxane (Bajazet). Is it the real performance, or is it the real reaction to a letter from Maurizio? The difference from Pagliacci is that we don't witness the performance as the audience, we witness it thru Michonnet's reactions.
The plot is quite complicated because of the so so so many misunderstandings just like a Baroque opera. This makes the staging really important but we only saw the concert version.
About the Performance
Why the concert version? Because the new production operas are already attractive for the audience. And if they want to get a diva starring on the opera, concert versions has less rehearsals.
Netrebko came to a stage with her dress that has 140.000 Swarovski crystals. The magnificent diva sparkled all over the stage. Of course, she didn't need any crystal to be spotted. Her voice mesmerized the audience from the very beginning and it didn't disappoint my high expectations at all. Her voice was so powerful and tender at the same time, she took a melody and played with every note but didn't spoil anything. Make me want to listen nothing for a month to keep her voice in my head :) Also, she's a very good actor, even in the concert mode, her acting felt like a staged opera.
Before the performance, there was part of me wondering if Yusif Eyvazov would be offered this role, if he wasn't married to Netrebko. However, he was very good at the role. Anita Rachvelishvili was a very competent mezzo. In her aria, her unique voice color was very suitable for the role. Also, I adored the somewhat dirty breast voice, it was realistic and full of emotions. However, her voice color didn't blend with Netrebko's in the duets. Nicola Alaimo, Mika Kares and Andrea Giovannini was also very good and amusing :)
Before the last act, the conductor didn't come to stage for a while, the appluase had faded, and the speculations started in whispers thru the auditorium :) Than, a cast member came to a stage and put the flower to the stage, appearently they forgot to place it during the interval :) Than, Marco Armiliato came and make us applaud the flower :) Speaking of, Marco Armiliato and Mozarteum Orchestra was also deserved my compliments. They were little laud since the orchestra was not in the pit since it is a concert version, and the greatest opera singers couldn't be heard time to time.