Netrebko takes revenge: “La Gioconda” in Salzburg…

Cheers and poses for “La Gioconda” with Anna Netrepko in Salzburg: Conductor Antonio Pappano confirms the passion for directing — but there's no doubting how difficult it is to perform Poncelli's romantic teardrops these days.

The voices are silent in two of the most haunting scenes. And: Yes, this is not a good sign. We experience the first of these scenes early on. Elegiac cello sounds soon give way to a dramatic revelation, punctuated by pleading woodwinds – and a blissful melody, surrounded by harp, runs through the score, promising a better future that can only be achieved in rehabilitation. In these minutes, conductor Antonio Pappano and the Orchestra dell'Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia already realize with the necessary romantic significance, a mother sends her daughter, still half a child, to the line.

And so, director Oliver Mears tells us, Gioconda's youth is bliss. The melody is used repeatedly in film and television, advertising, and pop (most recently by rapper Crack Ignaz), in the second of these special scenes, and the third scene, “Dance of the Hours.” Now we learn more about the backstory of Lucy Burke's story-turned-ballet: a happy little girl dances with her parents in an ideal world, but then the father dies – and everything takes an already familiar, terrible turn. Time is ironically indicated with pirouettes in tutu.

At the climax of this performance at the Alvis Festival, Anna Netrepko, as Giogonda, unexpectedly throws a dagger into the stomach of the hostess – and since the murder was not in the libretto, spontaneous boos tore through the Great Festival Hall. In the end, she doesn't kill herself, but she only identifies with Barnabas, who molested her, who abused her as a child, or men of this type, and thus takes revenge in the name of all women. Gioconda doubles as Tosca, the strong woman who overcomes male violence: Philipp Furhofer, in her acoustic disadvantage, fits contemporary Venice better than translating the trial into a mafia scenario.

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