During vilaine fille's funk, tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, the first-cast Edgardo in this season's Met revival of Lucia, became the it-boy of la blogosfera—or at least of our bent little corner thereof.
vilaine fille will share her impressions of young Filianoti à la brother Tom, moving from the general to the particular. "Enthusiasm": from enthousiazein, "to be inspired by a god," in a state that commands assent and awe. Filianoti oozes this quality, whether sprinting out for his bow with the glee of a child chasing an ice cream truck, or swearing revenge, cursing fate, or otherwise tending to a hochromantische hero's chores.
Brother Steve nailed it: Filianoti's Edgardo met his end with a swooning grace, a death-besotted bliss, that was boldly archaic and utterly true to Donizetti's ethos. And guess what? No one laughed. No one *breathed.* (By contrast, Elizabeth Futral's faints consistently prompted guffaws.) If Filianoti husbands his resources with care, he might one day be a mind-blowing Ernani.*
* [Ernani is another opera that demands over-the-top sincerity and abandon. And guess what? The first Ernani also sang Nemorino. Modern notions of Fach are rubbish!]
At times, when he is not lurching about, Filianoti's stylized gestures recall Alfredo Kraus—the most regal and poetic artist of vilaine fille's experience. He does the cape-et-épée bits with flair and, like Kraus, knows from old-school gallantry. Who could forget the sight of Filianoti gazing up at Futral with rapture, or cradling her face in his fluid, expressive hands? Filianoti has a way to go before matching Kraus's preternatural elegance, but he seems to have the goods to get there. From vilaine fille, that is very high praise.
The flip side of Filianoti's enthusiasm: Over-enthusiasm. Like Rolando Villazón (at the moment, a considerably more polished performer), Filianoti sometimes hurls his voice at the music, bringing to mind a charge once leveled at Giuseppe di Stefano: "What is so exciting about him is that he is dying as he is singing." vilaine fille can do without that kind of excitement. I've seen this season's Lucia twice: The first time, Filianoti's post-sextet confrontation with Futral was heart-wrenching—his "A me rispondi!" shot through with anguish, disbelief, the abject vulnerability of love. The second time, it was a blustery mess.
Brother JSU rightly underscores il nostro's "slightly unhinged self-regard." vilaine fille will be charitable for now and call Filianoti's mien "Byronic." She is waiting to see what he does with Nemorino, a harder role to bring off. (Read again the Lucia program note by the great William Weaver: He calls Elisir "idyllic." That's learnèd, sentimental fun, people—not slapstick.)
Filianoti's voice at its finest is as clear and bracing as spring water, plaintive or ringing as the occasion requires. He tends to sing vehement passages appallingly "aperto," and he needs to lose the Gigli-esque sobs that sometimes soil his generally elegant work. Choice details: "Ivi t'ucciderò!" at the Wolf's Crag: adamantine, aflame with rage; "Quale ardire!": spat out with incredulous pique. Note that Filianoti takes the "stock phrases" of ottocento opera and makes them kicks in the gut, telling and specific. This is one thing that separates potentially great artists from run-of-the-mill ones.
He brought an enchanting lilt and a long, flowing line to "Verranno a te." The finale was pinched and bumpy the first time I heard him but sublime a few nights later. Lucia is a subtly wrought opera, opening and closing with against-the-grain writing for male voices. In the first scene, the baritone thrusts up-up-up as he spews martial bile. In the finale, that hatred leaves in its wake ashes and mourning, a tenor whose phrases sigh and collapse and pull him inexorably towards death. Filianoti spun "Tu che a D-o" in a dreamy, exquisitely shaded mezza-voce that was the very stuff of Romantic transport. Sister Sieglinde is correct: When Filianoti is in top form, "his legato has legato," and from a ripping good tenor he becomes a beautiful musician.
In summary: A diamond in the rough, Filianoti made an impressive début. Down the line, I want to hear more tidiness and cannier use of his penetrating but not huge voice. Overall, though, my response is: More, please. (Note that Filianoti is nowhere to be seen on the MetManiac's future seasons page. Perhaps that will change, or perhaps he will join the ranks of Cappuccilli, Gruberová, Hynninen, Bartoli, Massis… Hélas.)
vilaine fille must now dispute sister Sieglinde's wanton and contradictory claims: "Filianoti is greater than Flórez"; "Filianoti is the next Juan Diego Flórez." I mean: Bite me, or as brother Jerry would say: Qui habet aures audiendi, audiat.
Sorry, I don't think that Filianoti has that kind of singing in him. He smudged nearly all the small notes in Lucia's Wolf's Crag scene, whereas in Rossini's sublime Donna del lago, the über-fastidious JDF cleanly articulates—burnishes—caresses—a vastly greater abundance of such notes, turning them into showers of jewels, the ecstatic outpourings of an impassioned heart. (Get yourself the aria or, better yet, the complete Donna as soon as possible: It ranks with Callas's Berlin Lucia and Cologne Sonnambula as some of the greatest music-making ever captured in sound.)
That said, Filianoti already has in his repertoire Werther, Faust, Fernand (Favorite), and other heavy roles that JDF will probably never attempt. So let us leave irrelevant comparisons aside and allow Filianoti and Flórez be their own very different selves—with audiences all the richer for it.
I offer a paraphrase of the Donna text, in honor of all our coqueluches:
Non curo il mio stato,
Non ho più consiglio;
[Sentirti] un momento,
Bearmi in quel [canto,]
È il dolce contento,
Che anela il mio cor !
[I care nothing for my state, I've lost my reason; To hear you one moment, to exult in that song, is the sweet contentment for which my heart yearns!]