It is not surprising that Verdi’s fifth opera, Ernani, is rarely produced and that this is its first visit to Opera Australia.
The tortured story of the love quadrangle is one of the silliest librettos produced by Verdi’s librettist Francesco Maria Piave, but despite this, Verdi’s glorious music and the splendid performers of this production nonetheless make this a gratifying and sensuous evening.
Natalie Aroyan plays Elvira, the young woman unfortunate enough to attract the attentions of three suitors, only one of whom she loves. That is Ernani (Diego Torre), former nobleman turned outlaw, who is planning to kill the king of Spain, Don Carlo (Vladimir Stoyanov), another of Elvira’s suitors.
However, Elvira’s uncle and guardian Don Ruy Gomez de Silva (Vitalij Kowaljow) has plans to make the lovely Elvira his own.
More silliness follows that ends with Ernani taking his own life as a result of a pledge he makes with Silva.
Director Sven-Eric Bechtolf tackles the ludicrous story by “imagining a 19th-century theatre putting on the show. It’s an excuse to embrace the melodrama, and allows for lavish period costumes, masks and headdresses.’
The singing, music, and costumes were indeed all fabulous and the melodrama was entirely appropriate in context.
Until Feb 13. Sydney Opera House, Bennelong Point, Syd. $45-$369+b.f. Tickets & Info: www.opera.org.au