Guleghina cancels and Lise Lindstrom makes Met debut as “Turandot”

Lise LindstromSoprano, Lise Lindstrom

The old proverbial concept of “being in the right place at the right time” is still working wonders for singers.  On October 28th, the Met’s resident soprano, Maria Guleghina unexpectedly cancelled due to illness, leaving B-Cast soprano Lise Lindstrom to make her debut several days earlier. In this interesting turn of events, Lindstrom solidified her place at the Met and likely caused some uneasiness for Guleghina’s future performances.

Lindstrom’s voice is a sharp, crystalline laser at the top, evoking memories of Nilsson, even if her middle and lower voice leave something to be desired.  She was accurate in Puccinian aesthetics if not a little stilted in her Italian pronunciation.  Some reviewers seem to be more concerned about the size of Lindstrom’s voice, but I say, size doesn’t really matter…it’s whether or not you can evoke something that slaps the audience emotionally in the face.  While the role of Turandot seems to me to be the wrong direction for Guleghina to take at this point in her career, she is going to have to pull out all of the stops in order to compete with Lindstrom’s new found adoring public.

Also giving an acceptable performance was Russian soprano, Marina Poplovskaya, as Liù.  The voice has a lovely, warm tone to it and pronounced beauty, however, Poplovskaya didn’t use her innately beautiful voice to its potential.  Although the audience responded graciously to her singing, Liù’s arias, which are authentic examples of Puccini’s “povera faccia melody” were lacking in emotional depth.

For me, the success of the night was resident tenor, Marcello Giordani, who sang with true Italianante impetus and remained true to Puccini’s aesthetic.  His understanding of the “punto di linea” was evident in every nuance.  Although his voice often displays its most beautiful colore bruciato in the higher tessitura, Mr. Giordani was expressive and authentic in his approach.  The Nessun Dorma, which is the key portal to Puccini’s grandeur, was sung eloquently, passionately, and with an exquisite penultimate note, held as Puccini intended it.  Many tenors extend the note when, in fact, Puccini shunned any lengthening of these notes at the end of the aria. Had he wanted to write a long note, he would have. This shows that Mr. Giordani is more devoted to accuracy than he is centered on showing off his abilities. Bravo Marcello!!!

Marcello Giordani

All in all, this performance of Turandot was much more successful than opening night’s “Tosca.”  What was more interesting was Peter Gelb’s interview during the intermission in which he suggested that they were “simply trying to give the audience something they could relate to.”  I’m all for anachronistic presentation, but bringing the past into the present doesn’t always mean that the audience wants something different, or that they can’t relate to something from the past.  After all, if opera isn’t a historical art, then what is it?  The very vocal audience at the Met, with someone even yelling out “Viva Puccini” after Giordani’s Nessun Dorma, are telling directors and producers exactly what they want.  VIVA IL POPOLO!!!!


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