I had been looking forward to catch the Met’s broadcast of Verdi’s Ernani, starring Angela Meade. This was the opera that catapulted her into the thick of the opera world, just a mere year after her win in the 2007 Met Opera Auditions. She debuted on the Met Stage in Ernani when she stepped in for the ailing Sondra Radvanovsky. Four years later she stars again in the role, and not as a cover.
She has a great voice! While it’s not the warmest, it’s powerful and thrilling and secure. It was exciting to listen to. As usual, I enjoyed listening to and watching the suave Dmitiri Hvorostovsky with his incredible breath control. I thought Marcello Giordani’s voice sounded a little worn around the edges but overall he gave an impassioned performance. I really, really enjoyed Ferruccio Furlanetto as Silva with his deep and dark voice. And the chorus did a magnificent job, particularly in the opening outlaw scene.
The plot itself is kind of convoluted and stupid. Aging uncle Silva wants to marry his niece Elvira. But he has two rivals – the outlaw, Ernani, and his king. Ernani initially attempts to spirit his beloved Elviria away from Silva, but when he is thwarted he has to run from both the king and Silva. But oddly enough Ernani then returns to Silva to ask him for refuge from the king, and promises that if they join forces to assassinate the king, Ernani will kill himself whenever Silva so desires. Their assassination attempt is foiled by the king, and he orders his guards to behead Ernani and Silva. However, Elvira pleads for mercy, and the king, in a 180 degree turnaround, grants clemency and relinquishes his claim on Elvira to Ernani. The two lovebirds are happy, but just for an instant, for Silva finds Ernani and demand that he hold his promise to commit suicide. Huh, I know right.
But amazingly, even with such a contrived plot, I actually enjoyed the opera! The music was captivating, and it was fascinating during the intermission to see the camera backstage filming the stagehands set up the incredibly complicated and cumbersome 30-year old set. It’s impressive how quickly the dozens of carpenters could cobble the massive scenery and set together.