I've heard it said that anticipation is half the pleasure of any event but unfortunately it can lead to much of the disappointment. Tonight may prove that point of view.
Back in December last year I booked my subscription for the 2008 season at the Teatro dell'Opera Roma and aside from the convenience factor there was the BIG EVENT in December: Riccardo Muti conducting Verdi's Otello. It was going to be a hard ticket to get but back in December 2008 I knew that - god willing and the Tiber don't rise* - Laurent and I would be sitting in Ord. II, Box 6 on December 11, 2008 with our friends Linda and Nazareno.
Now as anyone who has read my Salzburg Whitsun Festival postings knows I worship, along with a damned fine crowd including my dear Opera Chic, at the shrine of Muti. However reports coming out of this summer's Salzburg Festival, where the production originated, where not all that encouraging. Apparently Muti achieved some great sounds form the Vienna Philharmonic and Statsoper chorus and conducted a driven, highly dramatic performance. About the soloists and production itself the word of mouth was decidedly mixed. Now mind you, as always, some of those words were being spoken or typed by people who had only heard or seen a broadcast or heard from others, but they certainly have added to the anticipation.
After its summer break-in at Salzburg how will this first collaboration between Muti and the Teatro turn out? Certainly with the change of venue things will be different - the Grosse Festspeilhaus is such a bloody barn that voices can get lost and details in productions swamped by the mere size of the stage and auditorium. Will the more traditional opera house be kinder to the voices? Will the producer have rethought some of his ideas after the unkind reviews? How will Muti handle a chorus and orchestra that are a few steps below the forces he commanded in Salzburg?
So here I sit, a few hours away from a performance I have been anticipating for a year with all sorts of questions running through my head. Answers should come, possibly, tomorrow.
*I had no sooner written this than the Mayor declared a city-wide "State of Calamity" - don't you love the wording, its so bloody operatic. The torrential rains of the past two days have left majors areas of the city flooded, at least one person dead and some roads impassable. And according to forecasters there is more to come. And the Tiber is indeed rising.
11 dicembre - San Damaso I