Saturday, April 21, 2007
It's best not to even consider the plot of Handel's Flavio. Even by operatic standards it is flimsy and frustrating, and giving it any amount of thought can impede your enjoyment of the music. New York City Opera's pleasant but bland revival of Chas Rader-Shieber's 2003 staging does it's best to distract the audience from the story, relying heavily on garish sets (the stage, at times, looks like one giant petit fours) and over the top commedia dell'arte antics, not all of which are entirely successful. The proceedings weren't helped by the uneven singing of most of the principles, especially soprano Marguerite Krull (flat and forgettable as Emilia) and countertenor Gerald Thompson as her lover, Guido, who sacrificed the main line tones of his performance in order to give his arias a giant finish. (In his case, however, the ends did not justify the means.) David Walker was much more fulfilling in the title role, singing and acting with gusto to spare. The star of the evening, though, was conductor William Lacey, leading the tightest orchestra I've heard at City Opera in years and playing a mean harpsichord himself. However, in the end, I left this sugary confection longing for some real meat.