Le Cid (2001)

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3 November 2012 | TheLittleSongbird
9
| A fine production with superb performances
El Cid is far from Massenet's best opera(between Manon and Werther), but has some really wonderful music- the best known being Rodrigo's prayer O Souverain- and a good story with complex but not under-the-surface characterisations even if the former has more priority over the other. The opera is rarely performed now mainly due to how difficult to cast it is, but for those who want to introduce themselves to it this is the perfect production to do so. I would hesitate to see that the production is flawless, Rodrigo's prayer to his sword is poorly staged and the sets don't match the costuming, all feeling like a sparse unit. It does however have a number of extremely good things. I loved the very elaborate costuming, and most of the staging is compelling making the straightforward tone of the story interesting. The orchestral playing is both powerful and nuanced, and the conducting musical and sensitive to the singers. The performances are superb, with nobody I'd call a weak link. William Parcher does a good job in a role that doesn't require him all that much. Angela Turner Wilson's role as the Infanta is also small, but Wilson's beautiful voice and convincing acting makes that not matter. Elisabete Matos's Chimene is very sympathetic and her voice is rich-sounding and even, carrying over the orchestra with ease. As Don Diego, Hao Jiang Tian gives a very moving performance, his sonorous singing is some of the best of the entire production, especially in the aria after Gormas insults him, and he perfectly conveys through his acting the complex figure of a age-weakened man that was once powerful. Placido Domingo is the icing on the cake, he sings strongly particularly in O Souverain and the love duet and in terms of acting, as always there are no disappointments. Domingo lives the role of Rodrigo and is a tremendously powerful presence. Overall, superb performances lift an already fine production of an interesting(if not a favourite and it probably never will) Massenet opera. 9/10 Bethany Cox

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