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Risurrezione review at Wexford Opera House – ‘dramatic conviction’

Anne Sophie Duprels in Risurrezione at Wexford Opera House. Photo: Clive Barda Anne Sophie Duprels in Risurrezione at Wexford Opera House. Photo: Clive Barda
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Franco Alfano has gone down to history as the minor master who accepted the ungrateful task of completing Puccini’s Turandot after the far greater composer had died leaving the final scenes a mere bundle of sketches. He made a decent job of that, though was inevitably blamed for his talent not matching his predecessor’s genius. None of Alfano’s own dozen or so operas has remained in the repertoire.

But there are occasional revivals of two or three, especially the 1904 Risurrezione, based on Tolstoy’s novel Resurrection and an obvious work for the Wexford Festival to turn its attention to.

In this clear-eyed production by Rosetta Cucchi, to realistic and strongly atmospheric designs by Tiziano Santi and Claudia Pernigotti, Risurrezione certainly makes an impression: the narrative describing the central characters’ dual redemption is undoubtedly moving and is handled here with impeccable skill.

Right at the centre comes an individual performance of exceptional dramatic conviction – that of Anne Sophie Duprels as Katiusha, whose young life is destroyed by her seduction by the prince in the house where she is his aunt’s companion, but who eventually achieves spiritual renewal even amidst the degradation of a Siberian prison camp.

Singing with force and vigour, Australian tenor Gerard Schneider delivers a memorable account of Dimitri, the prince whose carelessly cruel act precipitates Katiusha’s disastrous fall but who belatedly attempts to make amends. Baritone Charles Rice, meanwhile, convinces as Simonson, the political convict who inspires Katiusha with his humanistic vision and whom she eventually agrees to marry despite her continuing love for Dimitri.

In a performance less committed or stylistically secure than this one, the score’s limitations in terms of its lack of strong musical ideas would be more apparent, but here conductor Francesco Cilluffo, the full cast and Wexford’s orchestra give it all they’ve got.

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Anne Sophie Duprels gives a performance of exceptional conviction in Alfano’s Tolstoy opera