Left: Ferruccio Furlanetto as Silva. Photo: Marty Sohl/Metropolitan Opera
Ferruccio Furlanetto - Mephistopheles. Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Two months at the Met’s stage: "Ernani", "Faust", "Il Barbiere di Seviglia"
In his two month on the Met stage Ferruccio Furlanetto has succeeded in three operas: “Faust”, “Ernani”, and “Il Barbiere di Seviglia”. The press report of his triumphant performances is yet not complete, because some reviews in monthly editions are still coming and anticipated, but true impressive.
Not surprisingly the main attention and critical acclaim was arisen by Furlanetto’s performance as Silva in Verdi’s ‘Ernani’. He participated in all 6 performances of opera revival in a colorful production of Pier Luigi Samaratini. In the other main parts: Angela Meade, Roberto De Biasio, Dmitri Hvorostovsky, Marcello Giordani sang the title role in later performances; Marco Armiliato conducted.
Recognized today as one of the greatest Verdi’s basses, Ferruccio Furlanetto triumphed in all six performances of opera and received stellar reviews from the press.
"Ernani" in the press:“Mr. Furlanetto’s strong, dark, textured voice filled Verdi’s lines with burnished sound and arching lyricism.”
Anthony Tommasini, ‘New York Times’“The only singer who achieved an ideal combination of vocal heft and dramatic commitment was bass Ferruccio Furlanetto"
James Jordan, ‘New York Post’“Furlanetto was the one principal singer who combined voice and acting. … he gave dignity and pain to Silva”
Ronald Blum, Associated press“Ferruccio Furlanetto, a masterful Silva in seasons past, showed again why he is today’s greatest interpreter of Verdi’s bass roles. His inky, hate-filled tone in the opera’s final scene (Ecco il pegno) chilled the blood, though almost any of his utterances could be singled out for musical and dramatic mastery.”
Marion Lignana Rosenberg,‘The Classical Review’“Ferruccio Furlanetto, a youthful 62, ennobled the ominous utterances of old Silva with granitic strength, dignified passion and dauntless black-bass tone”
Martin Bernheimer,‘The Financial Times’Furlanetto ensured that the “grandee of old Silva was rock-solid to the core.”
George Loomis, ‘Musical America’“The only singer who retained throughout a consistently beautiful sound was Ferruccio Furlanetto, who played the villainous de Silva.”
Charles Rosen in ‘The New York Review of Books’“Ferruccio Furlanetto made “Infelice! E tuo credevi” … one of the highlights of the first act... De Biasio, Meade, and Furlanetto brought the opera to a rousing conclusion, with the blood-and-thunder final trio...“.
Q on Stage“Ferruccio Furlanetto remains an imposing Silva”
Classics Today.com“extremely magnificent in a role of old jealous Silva”
Russian-American Daily“The greatest dramatic commitment came, unsurprisingly, from the great Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto as don Ruy Gómez de Silva... Every word hit its target, matched by a scowl or doleful expression of injured pride, and his plangent tone suited Silva’s protestations, vengeful fury and disbelief as events continued to conspire against him. His Act I ‘Infelice’ was followed up with the cabaletta Verdi never intended for the opera. …When sung with such fervour as Furlanetto mustered, I wouldn’t quibble about its inclusion on this occasion”
Opera Britannia“Ferruccio Furlanetto is still fantastic... one must marvel at his capacity for not only communication, but also spectacularly pure legato singing”
The Musical Critsism.com“Vocally Furlanetto was the most convincing artist through his unremorseful, snarling Silva”
Seen and Heard.com“Ferruccio Furlanetto has once more appeared before the audience as ideal Silva.… each of his phrases has been impregnated not only with vocal colors but passions, love, and hate — with the whole gamut of emotions which this Spain nobleman has ever been consumed. …The famous aria “Infelice...” has become in his rendition a true masterpiece which put the house down with applause”
classicmus.ru“Furlanetto as Silva became the central figure of Second Act. Famous heroic cabaletta was performed with true perfection. His … fatal figure in the Final act was very impressive”
Alla Kenigsberg, 'Mariinsky Theater'Ferruccio Furlanetto’s “strong, dark and rich structured voice brings to the Verdi’s performance brilliance and lyricism”
Divalelni Noviny CZ
And of course the authors of the blogs added their praise and impressions:
“Ferruccio Furlanetto was in many ways the most complete performance of the night. The moment he walked in, energy exuding him as he found two men in the room of his beloved Elvira, we knew that this was a powerhouse ready to explode. And that's exactly what he did, giving a complex portrayal of Silva as an elder, lonely man seeking comfort in his final days. He was brutal, ready to do anything to obtain the love of Elvira, and his final intervention between the dying couple demonstrated how that sick obsession had seized control of the noble, but tragic figure at the start of the work and transformed him into a perverse murderer. Furlanetto's singing only added to this, as he sang with tremendous commitment throughout. He sang the opening phrase of the trio "No Vendetta piu tremenda" as if a volcano had erupted. His anger and fury was scary. During his opening aria "Infelice, e tu credevi" in which he essentially laments his old age and loneliness, Furlanetto's voice was weeping. Verdi's writing here is among the best in the opera as he portrays Silva's sadness with a great sense of dignity and nobility. Furlanetto caught every last color of Verdi's music to perfection. He was the complete opposite in the Final Trio. There was no nobility, just ruthless cynicism. A horrid grin of satisfaction, he smirks at the other two as they pleaded for his forgiveness. He was evil, he was deplorable, and it was absolutely wonderful to experience. Furlanetto has had a great career, and this portrayal is one the highlights among many
“This is don Ruy Gomez De Silva, sung by Ferruccio Furlanetto, who inhabited the role of passionate yet honorable Spanish nobleman as if it was entirely his own nature”
Mark Ronan Theater reviews
“Ferruccio Furlanetto made the stern nobleman complex and compelling. His singing was emotionally rich, as well as authoritative (and included a masterful account of the optional cabaletta, ``Infin che un brando vindice''). Silva's love for Elvira was credible--misplaced, perhaps, but certainly more than lust--and his pride and anger stirringly intense. The final tragedy of his bitter vengeance is his, as well as the lovers”
Opera Obsession blog
The world-wide attention to “Ernani” was greatly supported by the fact that this production became the part of HD-live season and was seen in more then 50 countries in about 1700 theaters. So before the show itself several interviews of Ferruccio Furlanetto appeared in different parts of the world, mostly fixed around the performance of Verdi’s opera but also touching other matters. Most notable from these was Operafocus.com one, which was reproduced in other web-recourses and in Spanish version published also in South America. In this interview Mr.Furlanetto reviled his attitude towards the opera in the whole and his role:
“…it is quite a demanding opera in comparison with other Verdi operas, because you need four singers who are really capable of performing Verdi’s music – and now we don’t have so many of them around in each register. Also, this opera can’t easily stand on its own feet without the right voices and proper productions. This unfortunately happens in many cases. My role is also a very demanding one. Silva is a difficult, stubborn old Verdi guy who, from the very beginning to the end, shouts “Vendetta, vendetta, vendetta!” Think about the difference between him and Fiesco who also starts with hate and revenge but then, towards the end, has the moment of reconciliation when his character completely changes. The final duet between him and Boccanegra is amazing because of this.
Silva is, in contrast to this, just going in one direction. For instance, in the final moment I like to put my feet between the dying characters, not allowing them to unite even in death. It is a difficult role, because the aria is followed by a cabaletta and all young Verdi cabalettas are between the bass and baritone registers. In most cases they are more [written] for a baritone than for a bass. Remember the cabalettas in “Attila” and “Nabucco” (Zacharia). Verdi probably wrote these roles with some specific singer in mind.”
and also shared something from his early experience:“I remember “Ernani” in Milano in the eighties. Actually I learnt the role because of that production. Nikolay Ghiaurov, who was supposed to sing Silva at La Scala, didn’t want to sing the cabaletta, complaining that it wasn’t originally written. However, the true reason was basically that the cabaletta isn’t beautiful and is unnaturally high for a bass. It is strange because the rest of the piece, as well as strong and demanding, is written for a bass. Basically, because Ghiaurov didn’t want to do it, Riccardo Muti asked for somebody else who could play the role. So, I learnt the role, went to Milano, Muti heard me and liked it. Then what happened was that at the moment it became known that there was a young singer who was ready to step in, Ghiaurov –who was at this time on the top of his magnificent career – accepted to do it. I must say that for me it was pure luck that he did this part himself, because it is one of these roles which is better to sing later rather than too soon. You really need all your vocal resources to know how to do it. So, it was important to learn it at that time and digest it for better times.”
Also after HD-live broadcast some more reviews came out:“Furlanetto achieved a variety of vocal colors to convey De Silva’s rage, love, and calculate sadness. In as fine of form as ever, his full, rich voice was definitely one of the highlights of the opera.”
Melanie O'Neill, Boston Performing Arts Examiner
The press attention for Ferruccio Furlanetto performances in “Faust” and “Il Barbiere di Seviglia” was understandably less. He stepped in when productions was already on their run and reviewed. Neither the less some editions spotted and praised Mr. Furlanetto’s performances as Mephistopheles
"Faust" in the press:“The other most notable newcomer was bass Ferruccio Furlanetto, who sounded in astonishingly robust voice as Mephistopheles for someone who began singing major roles at the Met more than 30 years ago.
Furlanetto, sporting a Van Dyke beard that made him resemble a silent movie villain, brought a dark, menacing sound to the role… His mocking serenade to Marguerite had a nasty bite to her, and his powerful outbursts in the church scene sounded, well, downright diabolical”
Mike Silverman, Associated Press“The suave Mephistopheles does better in the hands and vocal chords of Italian bass Ferruccio Furlanetto who sings with superb sonority but is not allowed too many supernatural powers. He sings “Le veau d’or” with panache and style and he delivers an impeccable performance within the limitations of this production. He does smash a sword and direct a fight from afar but such a devil you would invite home for dinner – almost”
James Karas, Pressplus1.com“Deserving special mention is also Mr. Furlanetto's Mephistopheles inhabitating the role with devilish gusto”
Angela Sutton, The Feast of Music“Ferruccio Furlanetto voluminous bass still encompassed Mephistopheles’ part with ease, and he proved dapper and charming
Gay City News“…it is at the level of incarnation that Furlanetto takes the bet, by the intelligence brought in the text underlined by always pertinent and often original changes: it is a true happiness to listen and to look at this sardonic, sometimes evil-minded demon, sometimes bluntly worrying”
ForumOPERA.com, France“The Ferruccio Furlanetto’s Mephistopheles is looking like a cynical bon vivant, there is something in his behavior that resembles the Devil from «Karamazov Brothers» by Dostoevsky. He waltzes with lightness, runs up and down the stairs which stage director has made an important stage element, impressively sings his famous aria “Le veau d’or” and “Serenade”, and makes fun of the Valentine’s attempt to win a victory over him with a cross, becoming really intimidate in the church scene when his devilish presence drives mad a poor Marguerite, and his dark and rich voice sounds with infernal immutability.”
St.Petersburg Music and Art Magazine
"Il Barbiere di Seviglia" in the press:The "marvelously theatrical don Basilio” (Opera Today) of Ferruccio Furlanetto was highly praised by press and his “La calunnia” put the house down with applause. “With huge vocal power marked Furlanetto the roaring of the cannons ("un colpo die cannone") in his fulminating presented "La canunnia" aria” – Klassik.com stated. And Die Presse comparing Diana Damrau (Rosina) “with her joyful play and brilliant coloratura” added that Ferruccio Furlanetto was singing in similar way, of course, more “profoundly like with his noble comedian performance of don Basilio.” February, 18 was also special for Ferruccio Furlanetto who was rather surprisingly scheduled to sing two performances on the same day: don Basilio at the matinee, which was broadcast internationally and Silva in the evening. But Mr. Furlanetto decided to meet this challenge and came out from it triumphal.
All in all during January and February Ferruccio Furlanetto participated in 15 shows, one of which became part of HD-live series, 6 of his performances were broadcasted by Met Opera Radio. His social activities at this time included Meeting with students and teachers at the Manhattan School of Arts, signing session at the Met Opera Shop and a Met Opera Club dinner in his honor, during which he was interviewed by Editor-in-Chief of Opera News F.Paul Driscoll.