I watched TFO’s broadcast of a live performance of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, from a 2008 Salzburg production.
There was a bit of drama backstage, with Anna Netrebko’s cancellation, replaced by the unknown Georgian soprano Nino Machaidze. Machaidze was only 25 at the time, with a hectic month to prepare.
She’s not as dark of voice as Netrebko, which is likely a good thing in this role, making her a very convincing Juliette (considering that the role is supposed to be a teenager). She was much more than a pretty face, though, giving me the best Juliette i’ve ever seen.
She appeared opposite a surprisingly lyrical Rollando Villazon, sounding mostly excellent. Yes, he did go off a bit in his big aria (flat on two of its three B-flats), but he got better as he went on. There seemed to be a gentle romantic chemistry, a sexual tension between the two. Even in close-up, their energies never dropped, the genuine passion kept me involved to the end.
Russell Braun? I’ve posted his Queen Mab aria before on this blog, a performance of wonderful intensity.
I admire Braun’s approach. His voice matches this rep very well.
At the controls, Yannick Nezet-Seguin gave us a reading of dignity and weight where required, the festival orchestra sounding wonderful throughout.
The production is available on DVD and Blue-Ray.