It was an exciting night at the opera. While the performers thrilled, director Robert Carsen provided plenty to mull over for those who like challenging productions.
Three leading American singers were making their Dutch National Opera debut and powerhouse mezzo Anita Rachvelishvili her much-anticipated return. All of them delivered on their promise, as the audience, grabbing every opportunity for mid-performance applause, made clear. Disappointment at conductor Sir Mark Elder’s cancellation for health reasons was compensated by the unplanned house debut of Lorenzo Viotti, who is poised to succeed Marc Albrecht as chief conductor at DNO and the Netherlands Philharmonic. The way he shaped the beloved double bill Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci into smouldering dramas promises a golden tenure in Amsterdam. A couple of imperfections aside, the orchestra played for him with agility and a consistently glowing sound. The intermezzos emerged slowly from a place of stillness to peak with incandescent melancholy. And the chorus, children included, matched the musicians in radiance and fire, dispatching a series of choral highlights.