Opera Review: The Israeli Opera

Donizetti: ‘La Fille du Regiment,’ the Opera House February 9.

Silly though the plot of Gaetano Donizetti’s opera La Fille du Regiment (The Daughter of the Regiment) is, it can be amusing and enjoyable if the direction is sparkling, the acting witty and the singing excellent.
This indeed was the case in Act 2 of the Israeli Opera’s production.
Act 1, on the other hand, was such as to encourage spectators to go home in the intermission, which many did. Emilio Sagi’s direction was commonplace and did not get off the ground, Julio Galan’s set was conventional, and the acting was conservative.
Among the singers, the one who stole the show was Robert Macpherson in the role of Tonio. His radiant lyric tenor and his capability to hold a significant note long enough to make a strong impression made him a credible lover. It was not quite understandable, though, why he should have fallen in love with Iride Martinez’s soprano as Marie, who in Act 1 sounded thin, strained and unsteady on the high notes. Her attempts at representing would-be French feminine charm were artificial and lacked the characteristic nonchalance, lightheartedness and elan. Her redeeming feature was brilliant coloraturas and genuine emotional expression in her farewell aria.
Matters improved significantly in Act 2. The warmup period of Act 1 seemed to have been overcome at long last, and the acting became lively, unpredictable and as humorous as Donizetti undoubtedly intended. Martinez’s voice sounded bright, clear and relaxed, her aria was convincingly sorrowful, and her coquettish antics that in Act 2 required less subtlety than in Act 1 were delivered more elegantly.
Monica Minarelli’s sonorous mezzo-soprano, as the Marquise, displayed some healthy humor and rendered a comic effect with “Kalaniot,” to much to the audience’s surprise – and certainly Donizetti’s – surprise.
The Opera Choir was meticulously trained and produced extremely fine nuances of dynamics.
Under conductor Alberto Zedda’s baton, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion sounded well coordinated and competently conveyed the required fun and military esprit de corps.