Pavarotti’s famous role launches tenorIn the role that shot Luciano Pavarotti to superstardom, tenor Lawrence Brownlee tossed nine high Cs to a Metropolitan Opera audience - in less than one minute.
The 39-year-old American pulled it off joyfully Monday on the season opening night of Gaetano Donizetti’s “La Fille du Regiment” (“The Daughter of the Regiment”).
The fiendish notes seemed a breeze for Brownlee, despite the inherent element of risk. He flies into the vocal stratosphere on his teacher’s advice: Imagine you’re in a parachute, soft-landing on the high Cs from above.
Still, in Donizetti’s high-jinx 1840 comic opera, the Cs have to be what the tenor calls “nine bull’s-eyes.” Others have called them the “Mount Everest for tenors” - a feat Brownlee last performed on a Moscow stage in September.
He plays Tonio, an Austrian peasant who falls hopelessly in love with a tomboyish young woman - an orphan raised by invading French soldiers.
As Marie, soprano Nino Machaidze produced coloratura fireworks amid the slapstick humor of a romantic plot that requires her to show off her considerable skill as a clown with a broken heart. The spectacular vocal agility of the spunky native of the former Soviet republic of Georgia, still in her 20s, has made her a fast-rising international star.
The Laurent Pelly production also features a longtime star soprano from New Zealand, Kiri Te Kanawa, in the nonsinging cameo role of the Duchess of Krakenthorp, whose meddling complicates life for the passionate pair.
The current hit production, which updates the action from Napoleonic times to World War I, runs through Jan. 6.