Monday 29 January 2007

La Fille du Regiment - again

Saturday we went to see La Fille du Regiment at Covent Garden, for the 2nd time. We were quite surprised at how well the production held up, seeing it twice in just over a week. There was still much to enjoy and the jokes did not seem stale.

The main reason for going was to see/hear Colin Lee as Tonio. It must take a great deal of gumption to replace Juan-Diego Florez for one performance in a role like Tonio. Lee's presence was no last-minute emergency, but had been planned from the start. Though, judging by the comments around us, a significant no. of the audience had thought they were going to see Juan-Diego Florez.

As it turns out Lee was almost as impressive as Florez. There were one or two moments of slight uncertainty, but his performance was notable for its confidence. Tonio's shorts suit Lee, a rather bulkier figure, than Florez, and Lee's was a slightly less naive, more knowing presence than Florez. Perhaps because Lee cuts a far less boy-ish figure on stage.

As far as the singing went, Lee was superb and received a well deserved ovation for his performance of his Act 1 showpiece, complete with the high C'.s His voice is less suave than Florez's and will perhaps develop rather more dramatically. Lee also has a rather more pronounced, but attractive vibrato which he uses expressively. If this were a competition then I think that Florez would win, but it isn't. There is plenty of room for both of them and those in the audience who came to see Florez were not disappointed in Lee. Next time, the Royal Opera ought to give him more than a single, measly performance. With adequate rehearsal time, I'm sure he could do wonders.

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