Sep 10, 2008

2 Roméos, 7 years apart

A long long time ago, when Serge Dorny was not the director of the Opera de Lyon, this house had a real talent for scouting new singers - since obviously it never has had the budget to hire real stars - except for Natalie Dessay, a native who is willing to sacrifice a little cash for the pleasure of coming home to a city one can only love once one knows it (but that's a whole different story). Furthermore, this house had the intelligence to schedule French masterpieces - after all, where better to promote the French music than in France? (Serge Dorny dismissed that idea as stupid as soon as he arrived here and has never changed his mind since). Anyway, in may 2001, the Opéra de Lyon had put Gounod's Roméo et Juliette on schedule, with a young and still relatively unknown tenor in the part of Roméo, Rolando Villazón. I had never heard of the guy before and I still remember the impact he made on me that night. The voice was light and extremely expressive, and I couldn't help but think of Franco Corelli - the similarities were indeed plethoric.
Extract of the original program with my comment from 2001 and the exclamation point, proof of my enthusiasm at the time (since I almost never use that punctuation mark).
This summer, Villazón appeared once again as Roméo, this time in Salzburg, and a performance was broadcast by 3sat, allowing me to watch it. Over the years, his voice has darkened, which is not at all my cup of tea. But the real surprise in Salzburg was how uninspired his acting was. I did not buy the character at all and that poor performance, combined with a rather inexpressive singing, concurred to a huge disappointment. And a serious nostalgia of 2001.

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