After ‘Carmen 3D’, another visit from the RealD camera team to the Royal Opera House. While the previous Covent Garden production of Bizet’s evergreen opera looked slightly threadbare in three dimensions, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier’s elegant staging of this Puccini favourite shows how the format can wring startling impact from the intimate perspectives of a chamber piece. Even if you think you already know this operatic warhorse, this production flags up the striking modernity of the libretto, which absolutely nails the passing American sailor Pinkerton’s inability to perceive his (fifteen-year-old!) Japanese ‘bride’ as a sensitive fellow human being. James Valenti’s Pinkerton and Anthony Michaels-Moore’s conscience-wracked US consul, Sharpless, bring both psychological credibility and vocal heft, so it’s slightly disappointing that soprano Liping Zhang’s diction and physicality aren’t quite on the same level. Elsewhere, the cast labour under variably convincing ‘oriental’ make-up, but on balance this can be recommended as an operatic experience which plays as living drama rather than a collection of costumes, mugging gestures and big tunes.
Friday March 2 2012