It's not over 'til the tenor sings -- now in 3D

Wed Feb 23, 2011 6:33am EST
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - A little airborne moisture comes naturally with singing, but young American tenor Michael Fabiano says it doesn't faze him that the droplets he exhales on Wednesday will be broadcast live and, for an opera first, in 3D.

"Live performance is live performance and I think that people want to see that," the 26-year-old New Jersey native told Reuters before he and English soprano co-star Claire Rutter take to the stage at the Coliseum in London for a 3D broadcast of the English National Opera production of Donizetti's dark and bloody "Lucrezia Borgia" (Sky Arts and selected cinemas).

"I think everyone when they watch television wants to see moments when people are on the edge and how they handle it -- are they sweating or not, if something goes astray do they correct it? That's live theater, that's what these reality television shows are all about too, and so I think it's great."

Based on Victor Hugo's tale of incest, murder, poisonings and rape in the Renaissance Italian Borgia family, the English-language ENO production of Donizetti's darkest opera (he also wrote air kisses like "La Fille du Regiment"), is the first opera directed by filmmaker Mike Figgis ("Leaving Las Vegas").

The production has received mixed reviews, with The Guardian's Tim Ashley writing that the incorporation of four short films with what is otherwise "a static, old fashioned" staging "proves unwieldy in the extreme."

But Ashley was unstinting in his praise for Rutter as Lucrezia, saying she "hurls out coloratura like spattered drops of venom," and wrote that Fabiano, as her illegitimate son Gennaro, whom she accidentally poisons at the end, "sings with effortless beauty of tone and an exquisite sense of line."

Not a bad press clipping for an Italian American of Calabrian heritage, part of whose family comes from Hoboken, where that other great New Jersey singer Frank Sinatra was born, who has made his Metropolitan Opera and La Scala debuts, and is portrayed as super competitive in a documentary based on a 2007 Met singing competition in which Fabiano won a grand prize.

"I believe firmly in competition," he said. "I was a champion debater in high school and I think it's what drives us to be great."   Continued...