At times, the opera can be comical. However, most often than not, it is intense and very dramatic - just like Los Angeles Opera's "The Two Foscari." Acclaimed Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo highlights the piece, but tenor Francesco Meli and soprano Marina Poplavskaya sure do make a name for themselves.
Written by Giuseppe Verdi, the plot is set in Venice, Italy. But this is an unusual take of Venice on stage. It's different - abstract for that matter, actually. The art setting is really only describable when seeing it personally. With Domingo, Meli, and Poplavskaya singing live, we come to ignore the stage features rather quickly.
Domingo, as always, provides a solidly strong voice in his performance as Francesco Foscari - a father in pain for his son's exile. Playing Jacopo Foscari, Meli delivers impressive vocals although his acting is still a work in progress. Poplavskaya, on the other hand, sets out on a quest to conquer Lucrezia Contarini's character, doing so marvelously.
Sporting Russian ethnicity, Poplavskaya produces a powerful display of her abilities to act and sing within an opera show. This is the first time I ever witness Poplavskaya performing live, and I must admit that she's amazing. She controlled the stage in an entirely distinctive way when on it; the crowd loved her. As a suffering Lucrezia (wife of Jacopo), Poplavskaya achieved a much-deserved standing ovation.
Overall, the sold out audience was beyond please with "The Two Foscari." Act I had people asking for additional scenes, Act II became more entertaining than the first, and Act III artistically formulated the much-awaited drama the story possesses. Domingo was just a masterpiece; he naturally keeps answering back at critics. He can still sing vigorously.
The company's music director, James Conlon, and director Thaddeus Strassberger (in his LA Opera debut) really went all out on this one. "The Two Foscari" showed the passion within, which could be attributed to both Conlon and Strassberger.