Sylvie Valayre (Turandot) and Franco Farina (Calaf) in Turandot, directed by Andrei Şerban, Washington National Opera, 2009 (photo by Karin Cooper)
The casting may not have been spectacular exactly, a situation that found itself oddly reversed in the second cast, heard on Monday night at the penultimate performance. The weak link in the first cast was the Calaf of tenor Darío Volonté, in no way an adequate vocal consort for the photon torpedo of Maria Guleghina's Turandot. It would have been much better to have the second-cast tenor, Franco Farina, across from Guleghina -- they happened to overlap in only one performance, on May 27. While Farina may not be a great tenore di forza, he has almost always proven a consistently good one -- as in his last appearance in Washington, in I Vespri Siciliani. At the very least, here was a voice with heroic resonance that never flagged throughout this demanding score and had well-supported and soaring high notes, if occasionally strained to the point of bending out of tune. He also had definite ideas about phrasing, decisively idiosyncratic, as he led conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson by the nose through Nessun dorma in Act III, leading to more than a few awkward clashes with the orchestra.
Ronni J. Reich, "Turandot's" Second Cast: Power and its Outages (Washington Post, June 1)
The final performance of Turandot, already sold out, will be performed tomorrow night (June 4, 7:30 pm), with this cast and Plácido Domingo conducting.