West Side Story – Salzburg – Scene from “Tonight”  –  photo by Silvia Lelli

By Jean Michel Pennetier | Sun, May 15th, 2016

Artistic director of the Salzburg Whitsun Festival since 2012, and confirmed until 2021, Cecilia Bartoli performs this year a masterstroke.For this edition the theme of Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story was certainly a relevant title, but far expertise Salzburg and especially musical talent of Roman diva approaching fifty. On this last point, the difficulty is cleverly diverted by director Philip William McKinley . In a flashback, Maria remembers past events. She wears mourning clothes.Its double plays and dance, but she sings, sometimes outlining steps.Sometimes the two characters interact, as when Maria yesterday looks in a mirror in preparing her appointment with Tony, while Maria today contemplates the other side. Without being original the process is efficient and excellently resolved far from dulling the show, this distancing reinforces the contrary emotion transfiguring some ways bluettes in tragedy. McKinley led us well to a relevant conclusion and closer to the original Shakespearean Maria throws herself under the wheels of the subway and joined her lover in death.

To fill the huge stage Manege rocks, George Tsypin designed a spectacular set design on several levels. The different places of action are perfectly integrated bar at the scene sewing shop on the first floor, the second chamber Maria, deep underground, etc. The movable panels emit or limit the following space requirements: fights, dances or rather intimate scenes. Gigantism that has not thwart the fluidity worthy of the best run-Broadway shows. The flashy costumes Ann Hould-Ward are aesthetically beautiful, and enable good spot different clans on the stage area. Also excellent lighting for Patrick Woodroffe , also varying moods depending on the booklet. In such a place, it was essential to add sound artists, but things made ​​with relative discretion and perfect spatial.

Cecilia Bartoli embodies Maria a little ripe, fruity timbre, singing served by impeccable technique. In this directory is not expected, the surprise comes mainly from the emotional charge of his interpretation, of great strength and great accuracy. Despite the flashback, Bartoli portrays not a Maria destroyed by the loss of her lover, but hopeful contrary, it is animated by the certainty that she will find Tony beyond death, after a last nostalgic ride in his memories. True operatic tenor Norman Reinhardt camps Tony perfect musicality, the bright timbre, the superb treble, playing different registers (chest voice, mixed voices) at the option of the dramatic necessities. Unlike some singers who occasionally tried to gender, Reinhardt knows obscure lyrical origins and sing like a true artist of music . Excellent actor, he lacks the youth to be truly credible face to partners: here, Tony is definitely happening in the world of adults. The rest of the cast is dramatically and vocally excellent, worthy of the best productions of Broadway, particularly with the amazing and moving Anita Karen Olivo . The ballets have not all the desired fluidity, but no doubt they will be perfect for the recovery of this summer.

The choice of Gustavo Dudamel and the Simón Bolívar Orchestra is another stroke of genius. Never this partition has been directed with such a fever, such a rate, such colors: the rigor of a symphony orchestra combined with the brilliance of a Latin formation. Especially, Dudamel will search that partition sounds, dissonances, effects that had never been heard before (extraordinary introduction of “America”, unrecognizable). And this research is never at the expense of the theater and singers with Dudamel is a team that is federated to the service of music.