(Shortened Vietnamese version available)
KVT says bene, bravaccio, and lots of bravo at Nha Hat Lon
The Italians did it once again. Occasionally they pull out all the stops and come up with something that zings. My all time Italian favorites in Hanoi were in 2009 when they gave us a madcap La Cuccina Futurista at Goethe…which is still one of my all time favorite arty things I’ve seen in Hanoi, and The Artemis Dance Company which re-inforced my passion for outstanding contemporary dance.
Their Gala Italiano at the Opera House last weekend was fine stuff indeed. The Roman Concert Association, a very noteworthy organization has taken their Italian Gala just about all over the world, spreading goodwill, education and the music of Italy’s most renowned Opera composers Rossini, Donizetti, Bellini, Puccini and Verdi.
The concept of connecting countries was symbolically achieved on the night by having two respected Vietnamese singers performing with the Italians …and, more importantly, I guess, in the background with coaching etc for aspiring locals…. which is by far the most effective and lasting way to connect.
It was refreshing that the program consisted of the well known and well loved operatic works, primarily from the Bel-Canto era, as well as those less often heard. There’s nothing so patronizing as having an evening of evergreens chucked at you by well meaning organizers.
Mind you, one lady in F row was obviously hoping to be patronized because when the ones she couldn’t connect with came along she was onto her mobile phone in 2 seconds flat and when that relief wore thin she’d throw herself all over the place as if she suffered ADHD and was in need of a ritalin fix.
It was an excellent batch of soloists…really rich voices, excellent stage presences that reeked of naturalism without a hint of histrionic overacting and that started with a bang with Figaro’s first and probably most famous aria from the Barber of Seville, ‘Make Way For The Factotum of the City’, and concluded with the ‘Sweet Daughter of Love’ quartet from Rigoletto …both of which got rapturous applause.
A lot of lead up talk was given to Juliet and Romeo’s act one duet from Bellini’s ‘Capulets and Montagues’ which has Romeo suggesting that Juliet ‘come and rest in me’…. which is one of the opera’s two great hit songs. Romeo, sung by a Mezzo soprano in place of Bellini’s intended castrato is nowadays sometimes voiced by a counter tenor to give the protagonists a sexual tension. And on Saturday it remained an operatic hit.
The one lone cameraman who pranced around and across the auditorium all night with his equipment plus huge tripod, would have been more entertaining if he had been given his own arias to sing…though one angry patron who’d probably paid the full 700 000VND for an aisle seat almost made the upstart start to squeal with a swift and deserved kick up the backside, but his equally frustrated wife made him desist (unfortunately).
I can’t choose a favorite because all were memorably sung.
At first I was puzzled by the talk fests that the director occasionally engaged us in but when I realized that ‘education’ is a major part of the ethos of the Roman Concert Association, I realized and appreciated the good intent.
Revenue from sales all went to the Vietnamese Red Cross to assist in collaborative projects with their Italian counterparts.
What better way to celebrate your national day (funny to realize that the Republic of Italy came into being less than 60 years ago and that its distinctive flag was first unfurled in 1947) than by sharing a big dollop of your best music and excellent voices….and excellent piano playing.
Happy belated birthday to all Y people in Viet Nam.
|Kiem Van Tim is a keen observer of life in general and the Hanoi cultural scene in particular and offers some of these observations to the Grapevine. KVT insists that these observations and opinion pieces are not critical reviews. Please see our Comment Guidelines / Moderation Policy and add your thoughts in the comment field below.|