Dame Joan Sutherland says goodbye to the operatic stage with Meyerbeer’s Les Huguenots
Les Huguenots, once one of the most successful operas in the history of the Paris Opera, had the misfortune, along with its creator, to be labelled ‘Entartet’ (degenerate) by the Nazis. One of the reasons why the work was ignored for decades and was only sporadically performed.
Marguerite de Valois has always been one of Joan Sutherland’s favourite roles, she sang her in 1962 at La Scala, and she chose to sing her in her last opera production on stage, on October 2, 1990 in Sydney.
The voice of the over 60-year old La Stupenda is not so solid anymore, but her height and her coloratura are still very much present, and apart from Amanda Thane (Valentine) and the really splendid Suzanne Johnston (Page), none of the singers manage to perform at her level. The acting is very good and the inevitable ballet is anything but irritating.SusSuzanne_Johnston
The costumes and the scenery are true-to-life and evocatively beautiful, and the entire stage most resembles a large, seventeenth-century painting. The very traditional production is not only beautiful to look at, but also insanely exciting: this is proof that a good director (Lotfi Mansuri) does not need concepts.