The Met: La Sonnambula

La Sonnambula

Program for La Sonnambula at The Met Opera with the stage in the background. NYC, 2014.

First Bellini opera – check

First La Sonnambula – check

First Diana Damrau live – CHECK!!

Also, first time sitting in the balcony section at The Met – check! Baritone Boy and I usually get tickets in Family Circle, but La Sonnambula was a birthday gift from my parents (thank you, Mom and Dad!) so I splurged and picked seats a few rows closer.

Okay, I realize this post is titled “The Met: La Sonnambula” and not “I HEART DIANA DAMRAU FOREVER,” so I’ll try to reign in the adoration and awe just a bit. But before I do that, I have to get this off my chest:

WOW. Have you seen her? Gorgeous! Have you heard her? Breathtaking!

My first exposure to the magnificent Diana Damrau was via YouTube around 2009 or 2010. I watched videos of her “Caro nome” and “Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” — and if you haven’t seen these, you must! Go back and click on the links! — and I was totally blown away. What a voice. What accuracy. What commitment to character. What an amazing performer. Clearly, I am a huge fan.

Alright, time to reign it in and get back to La Sonnambula.

(If you haven’t noticed, I don’t really “review” performances or recordings here. I have my opinions, but I refrain from posting negative comments because there’s no need to make enemies or frenemies when you’re one out of 9373428 bajillion sopranos trying to make it in this industry. Plus there are reviewers who will review and do a much better job of it.)

So here is my almost-two-cents about La Sonnambula:

  • Lots of beautiful singing. Lots of line and legato! Lots of beautiful floating phrases! Tons of high notes, and plenty of fast notes! Everything Diana Damrau sang was magnificent, and Javier Camarena got like 2 minutes of applause after one of his arias. Loved Elizabeth Bishop as Momma Teresa.
  • Fantastic acting all-around! We were in the balcony section, and I felt I could clearly see the changing dynamics between characters. Rachelle Durkin as Lisa had the challenge of being the antagonist, and her comedic ability helped to give her machinations a slightly less evil bent.
  • Interesting concept. It was an opera(rehearsal)-within-an-opera. The production was set in a rehearsal space as a contemporary 0pera company rehearses for La Sonnambula. Amina was the lead soprano getting her costumes fitted, Teresa was a loving stage mom, Lisa was the jealous stage managers, the chorus was literally the chorus (complete with chorus sign-in sheet and union mandated breaks). I love period costumes and sets, so a small part of me wanted a more “traditional” take — but I appreciated the cleverness of this production and the mind-bending parallels director Mary Zimmerman highlighted in the program notes, that dreaming sleepwalkers and performers exist in two worlds at once: the real world (which you and I inhabit) and the imaginary…
  • Alright, I just can’t help myself: Diana Damrau was AMAZING!!!! She was twirling, spinning, cartwheeling, and getting raised up on people’s shoulders, and she was singing gorgeously the entire time. This was more than just a little movement – she was full-on dancing.  The most beautiful moment for me was “Ah! non credea,” which was spell-binding. The section of the stage she was standing on moved forward and extended out over the orchestra pit, and Diana sang the entire cavatina from there. Then, something doesn’t go as planned during her on-stage costume change going into “Ah! non giunge.” There is literally silence as everyone watches and waits, and Diana clears her throat and calls out “Momento!” while three people finish getting her dress on. Not only does she sing, but she improvs too!
  • It felt personal. It was a Tuesday night, and I got the sense that the audience in attendance was there more “to see” and less “to be seen.” No one goes to a 2+ hour show on a schoolnight because they want to party — we were there because we love Bellini and Diana Damrau and just had to see this production even if it meant going to bed late and being tired at work the next day.
  • There was a joy, fun, and love in the air. It was Javier Camarena’s birthday that night. When the principles took their bows, a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday filled the house. Flowers were being thrown on stage, and of course some of them hit the principles in the face – perfect!

It was really something.

And I still can’t believe I saw Diana Damrau live!!!!!


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