(Joseph Calleja e Renée Fleming, como Alfredo e Violetta, respectivamente - La Traviata, Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Junho de 2009)
Renée Fleming, senhora da mais bela voz de soprano lírico dos últimos vinte anos (desde o ocaso de Cheryl Studer, para ser mais exacto) nunca me impressionou como Violetta Valéry, ossia La Traviata.
Vi-a no Met, há uns bons seis anos, neste tremendo papel. Tudo seria perfeito, não fora a falta de anima...
A suburbana mise-en-scène de Marta Domingo, concebida para Fleming, estreada na ópera de Los Angeles, veio sublinhar as minhas dúvidas, quanto às fragilidades de Fleming.
A dita encenação é medíocre. Os colegas de Fleming são o ultra-decadente Bruson (cujo vibrato dá dó...) e o Alfredo atontalhado de Villázon.
Consta que a maturidade dos cinquenta em muito enobreceu a interpretação de A Transviada, d'après Renée Fleming. Uma vez mais, cada cabeça, sua sentença, como segue:
«The latest and most mature to do so is the American superstar Renee Fleming and what she has that singers like Gheorghiu and Netrebko before her did not is a wealth of experience and stylistic know how. Alright, so the words are too often sacrificed to the sound and the sound, borne as it is on extraordinary and effortless breath control, is, one could argue, so glamorous as to seem self-regarding. But what a sound it is and how – in true bel canto fashion – it shapes and defines the emotion. The little hairpin dynamics, the wistful portamenti, the way in her climactic act one aria she takes time to savour the “mysterious”, “exalted” tone of the music culminating in a real (and properly ecstatic) trill. Her chest register has more attitude now, too, and there is rage in her demise, the words “It’s too late” rasping with defiance.
Experience and authority fleshed out act two more than one can say with even the young head on old shoulders of Joseph Calleja displaying fabulous maturity. What a distinctive quality this warm and engaging voice has, the flutter of rapid vibrato lending a wonderfully inviting quality to his ample middle range. Then the gaunt and commanding father figure of Thomas Hampson (Giorgio Germont) whose confrontation with Violetta achieved an agonising intensity. Fleming’s numbing pianopianissimo as she agreed to leave Alfredo for the sake of his sister was quite simply great dramatic singing – and how it heightened the impact of the great release “Amami, Alfredo” minutes later.
None of this would have been possible without Pappano’s extraordinary instincts: the sheer range of colour he coaxed from his orchestra in the accompagnamenti, from airy light to robustly sprung, was in itself a source of great insight. The fifth star is his, because this is quality as befits a major international house.»
«In her most recent appearances at Covent Garden, Renée Fleming sailed effortlessly through the ripe romanticism of Rusalka and Thaïs, producing some of the most exquisitely beautiful singing I have ever heard in an opera house.
But La traviata is something she finds tougher, as anyone would – it's often been said that Verdi had a different vocal type in mind for each of the three acts, and the emotional variety packed into the role of Violetta isn't easy to unravel.
In the party fizz of the first scene, Fleming certainly sounded uncomfortable and underpowered: she was outsung by her Alfredo in both duets, and the coloratura of "Sempre libera" put her under pressure, not helped by a conductor, Antonio Pappano, with whose tempi she clearly disagreed.
But the duet with Germont in the second scene was sublimely phrased and sensitively dramatised – there was far more musical and emotional nuance in her interpretation than in Anna Netrebko's, wildly acclaimed here last year – and the great statements of "Donna son io, signore" and the farewell to Alfredo (during which she poured camellias like blessings over his head) were delivered with blazing passion and authority.
At Flora's soirée, Fleming spun "Alfredo, Alfredo" on golden thread before collapsing in an alarmingly authentic stage faint. In her final hour, the voice became whiter, as though life was being bleached out of it, with the last ascending phrases of "Addio del passato" like agonising twists of breathless pain. What other soprano today can match such superlative craft?
This Violetta doesn't suggest the petite poule de la campagne Marie Duplessis of Dumas' original: Fleming plays her more like Scarlett O'Hara, a spirited Southern belle, and why not? But ultimately I missed the noble soul and tender vulnerability that my most beloved Violetta, Ileana Cotrubas, embodied so unforgettably.
Joseph Calleja was the most endearing of Alfredos, singing with fresh, forthright, vibrant tone, and as Germont Thomas Hampson gave a masterly account of that dreary old aria "Di Provenza il mar".
All the supporting roles were sharply characterised, evidence that Richard Eyre had returned in person to refresh his durable 1994 staging, which still looks splendid in Bob Crowley's sumptuous designs. And his differences with the diva aside, Pappano conducted with a warmth and vitality which made for a happy orchestra. A richly rewarding evening.»