After the opening of the season with a stellar cast for the streaming of Cavalleria rusticana, another starry night was offered at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples with the Gala Mozart Belcanto, whose programme ranged from Mozart to Donizetti and Rossini. The show was dedicated to the splendour of bel canto,  the Italianate vocal style that triumphed throughout Europe between the 18th and early 19th century.

Maria Agresta and Giacomo Sagripanti
© Luciano Romano

The Teatro San Carlo's Facebook channel streamed the gala, which featured internationally renowned artists such as Maria Agresta, Ildar Abdrazakov, Nadine Sierra, Pretty Yende and Francesco Demuro; a sort of "competition" between virtuoso singers who sang some of the most celebrated arias of the bel canto repertoire under the baton of Giacomo Sagripanti.

The show opened with the Overture from Le nozze di Figaro, then Russian bass Ildar Abdrazakov and American soprano Nadine Sierra performed “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart's Don Giovanni. In the empty, cold hall, they managed to break the ice and warm up the hearts of the online audience. The bass-baritone with his rich, deep sound was well paired with Sierra, and both showed confidence and empathy. Sierra was also given the honour to close the gala with a passionate "Ardon gl’incensi... Spargi d’amaro pianto” from Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor .

Francesco Demuro, in the bravura aria for tenor from La Fille du régiment by Gaetano Donizetti, “Ah! mes amis”, showed his bel canto flair, for the ease with which he hit all nine high Cs noted in the score, with which Tonio shows his joy for having had the consent to marry Marie, the opera's title character. Demuro completed his performance with “A te, o cara”, from Bellini’s I puritani, and joined Pretty Yende in “Esulti pur la barbara” from Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore, confirming all his qualities as a lyric tenor.

Nadine Sierra
© Luciano Romano

South African soprano Pretty Yende sang "Una voce poco fa”, the cavatina from Rossini's Il barbiere di Siviglia, with a coquettish attitude, which sounded very well suited to the role of Rosina. In Le nozze di Figaro, Mozart’s “sequel” to Beaumarchais' Barber, Rosina becomes the overly staid Countess and sings a lovely duettino with her maid Susanna, “Canzonetta sull’aria”. Yende and Sierra formed a very close-knit duo, depicting each and every nuance required by the duet, with just a little extra “romantic” colour, which could be superfluous.

Maria Agresta, the hometown heroine (she's was born in the Naples region), began her quality showing with “E Sara in questi orribili momenti… Vivi, ingrato, a lei d'accanto", from Donizetti’s Roberto Devereux, and, after an instrumental interlude with the Sinfonia from Norma, marked a substantial point with "Casta Diva".

Ildar Abdrazakov
© Luciano Romano

With Leporello’s Catalogue aria, Abdrazakov confirmed he deserves his fame as one of the best, most sought-after bass-baritones, with his sonorously lyrical voice and impeccable stage presence. The Russian singer completed his performance with “La calunnia” one of the most famous arias for bass of all opera repertoire. He definitely stole the scene with his powerful, well-projected bass, with which would have deserved a standing ovation, were the theatre full.

Conductor Sagripanti proved the right choice for this gala, as he conducted efficiently and pleasantly the soloists and the chorus: the latter was also given a chance to show their bravura, which they did not waste, with “Che interminabile andirivieni”, from Donizetti’ Don Pasquale. At the end, no applause could resound in the empty theatre, of course, but a little twinkle of nostalgia must have appeared in the performers' eyes, perhaps.

This performance was reviewed from the Teatro San Carlo live video stream on Facebook