LABELS: Opus Arte
WORKS: Pique Dame
PERFORMER: Misha Didyk, Lado Ataneli, Ludovic Tézier, Ewa Podlés, Emily Magee, Elena Zaremba, Francisco Vas, Mikhail Vekua; Escolania de Montserrat; Chorus Intermezzo; Orchestra & Chorus of the Gran Teatre del Liceu/Michael Boder; dir. Gilbert Deflo (Barcelona Liceu, 2010)
CATALOGUE NO: DVD: OA 1050 D (NTSC system; dts 5.1; 16: 9 picture format) 180 mins (2 discs); Blu-ray: OA BD 7085D (1080i HD; 5.1 dts-HD; 16:9 picture format)
So music-theatre friendly are whole stretches of Tchaikovsky’s dramatically baggy but invention-strong supernatural opera that it’s almost incredible to find a world-class opera house staging it as unimaginatively as this. I have no problem with Gilbert Deflo locating it midway between the composer’s chosen period – the St Petersburg of Catherine the Great – and the 1820s setting of the original short story by Pushkin. William Orlandi’s costumes and some of his sets are big-budget handsome, sharply lit and filmed. What’s reprehensible is Deflo’s leave-them-to-it lack of focus. Can this really be the same Misha Didyk who played another obsessive gambler, Dostoyevsky’s according to Prokofiev, so brilliantly under Dmitri Tcherniakov’s naturalistic direction? His tenor is untiring, as is Emily Magee’s blowsier soprano in the role of the pawn Hermann. The vocally fulsome Ewa Podlés gives an over-the-top performance as the Countess.
Nearly everyone else is loud in either a good way – Ludovic Tézier’s cipher Yeletsky – or a bad one – Lado Ataneli as an awkward Tomsky. Only veteran Stefania Toczyska in the tiny role of the Governess shows restraint and poise. The orchestral playing under Michael Boder lacks weight and atmosphere; the choral singing is ragged. If you want traditional, go to the old Kirov show; but we can’t be doing with this when a genius Pique Dame like Richard Jones’s for Welsh National Opera remains undocumented on film. David Nice