Eccomi Alfine ... At The Met
Stanley H. Nemeth | Garden Grove, CA United States | 12/12/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Most listeners would agree, I think, that "Semiramide" is an opera whose success in performance rests almost exclusively on the singers of its two leading roles. So difficult are these roles that the opera is almost never done. In the 60's, though, first in Los Angeles in a concert version, and then in the 70's at the Chicago Lyric in a fully staged production, the opera was unforgettably brought back into the repertoire by the spectacular Joan Sutherland and the incomparable Marilyn Horne. With typical slowness of response during that time, the Met ignored their triumphs. By the time the Met did get around to staging the work, Sutherland had already stopped performing the title role, and Horne, who was cast, nevertheless was nearing the end of her own Rossini singing.
Nonetheless, this Met version preserved on DVD still has merits. Horne, for instance, is disappointing in spots only by comparison with her own earlier freer-voiced and more astonishingly ornamented performances. June Anderson, singing the title role, is fully competent, but her performance is more competent than memorable. Nothing in her coloratura fireworks or legato singing could be called truly ravishing here.
Samuel Ramey, as expected, gives a fine performance, but the opera does not rise or fall based on his role.
In conclusion, it is disappointing that no videotaped or DVD performance of this rarely done opera exists with Sutherland and Horne in their glorious primes. What we have instead is this good performance (4 stars), but one which must fall short of the mark for those in Los Angeles or Chicago who experienced great ones.