1 May 2012 | TheLittleSongbird
The best of the Teatro La Fenice Opera Collection productions
I have always loved opera and I thoroughly enjoyed all the operas in the Teatro La Fenice Opera Collection. The weakest was Maometto Secondo, there were two commanding performances and outstanding musical values but it was lacking in the stage direction and some of the acting was robotic. Les Pecheurs Des Perles and Le Roi De Lahore had their faults such as a bad Nadir for the former and confused stage direction for the latter but they were brilliant musically and solid performances-wise generally. Pia De Tolomei was interesting, if more consistent musically than visually, while Thais was excellent, very sensual and moving.
But I consider Daphne the best of this collection, only let down by the lack of Daphne's transformation in the Transformation scene, which I had always considered the opera's highlight and made no sense without, a rather insipid staging for the Bacchanal and Scott McAllister's vocally powerful but rather unsubtle Appollo.
The music however is excellent. Daphne for me is nowhere near Strauss' best story-wise, in fact I would go as far to say in that area it is one of his weakest, but there are some truly inspired passages of music and the opera's tone is that of genteel beauty. And the music is ravishingly performed by the orchestra, with suitably alert(if occasionally a tad too broad) conducting by Stefan Anton Reck.
Visually, it is very effective in its simplicity. The costumes and sets are beautiful and imaginative, and elevated by good video directing and sound. The staging is fine apart from the two scenes above that were disappointing, Daphne's mourning of Leukippos' death is incredibly moving and the Festival of Dionysus which is colourfully staged also.
As far the principal singing went, it was very impressive. In particular June Anderson, although I do like her voice apart from Lucia and Gilda I was never riveted by her. Until now, because vocally Anderson is radiant and dramatically it is by far the most involved performance I've seen of hers. Another standout was Birgit Remmert, whose singing is dark and profound and acting is rich and physically light in contrast to Daphne.
Roberto Sacca is a heart-wrenching Leukippos, it is very stylish, musical singing and of the four or so times I've seen him on DVD this is by far his most involved, especially in his death scene. Daniel Lewis Williams is a more than adequate Peneios.
In conclusion, a great production. 8.5/10 Bethany Cox