The 2009-2010 season of De Nationale Opera (then the Netherlands Opera) in Amsterdam started very strongly with Jacques Fromental Halévy’s La Juive. This production had already been staged in Paris, where it was highly praised despite its unsuccessful premiere (the opera staff were once again on strike and there was no lighting).
Pierre Audi’s direction was particularly beautiful and effective. As is (almost) always the case with him, the images were stylised, aesthetic and beautiful to look at. The understated aesthetics worked perfectly with the highly emotional music, not to mention the subject matter.
Jean Kalman’s grandiose lighting was an important part of the stage concept, making the final scene, in which Eléazar and Rachel calmly walk towards their deaths, one of the most moving moments in opera history. I just had to cry and I was not alone. George Tsypin’s setting: a steel cathedral that also served as a prison, was also very impressive.
Musically, it was a dream performance. Dennis O’Neill really wás Eléazar. Not so young anymore, tormented, full of revenge, but also doubting – a truly perfect performance. He sang his great aria full of glow and passion, and with the necessary sob. And although it was not entirely perfect here and there, it was just so very moving.
The voice of Angeles Blancas Gulin (Rachel), with its very recognisable timbre, is not exactly ordinary. At times metallic and sharp, yet warm and round. Her portrayal of a young girl torn between duty and love was very credible and her fear physically palpable.
John Osborn (Léopold) and Annick Massis (Eudoxie) were also present in Paris. Both singers possess a truly phenomenal bel canto technique and dazzling, supple high notes.
Alaistair Miles (Brogni) may not have had the best low notes, but his charisma was very impressive.
Carlo Rizzi conducted the excellently playing Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra with the necessary momentum and the Netherlands Opera Chorus (rehearsal: Martin Wright) was, as always, compelling and unmatched.
A big BRAVO to all.
Trailer of the production: