REVIEWS | Operawire

Opéra de Lyon Season 2017-18 – Attila: Verdi Opera Rants & Rampages But Daniele Rustioni Reigns
Rustioni’s Magic
As part of the Opéra de Lyon’s mini-Verdi Festival in their 2017-18 season, the debonair Directeur Général Serge Dorny (soon to swap Côtes du Rhône and saucisson de Lyon for Münchner Bier und Weißwurst) wisely opted for a concert version of Verdi’s fascinating ninth lyric drama, which was held in the capacious 2,000 seat L’Auditorium.
Although categorized as “early Verdi”, “Attila” is oceans away from its Peruvian predecessor “Alzira.”   As Muti advised: “In ‘Attila’ it is critical to bring out the ‘accento Verdiano’ – the Verdian accents and articulations of the words and the music. There is a shape to the musical lines that is like sculpture. The singing and articulation must come first, even more than urgency and emotion.”   Under the Opéra de Lyon’s enormously talented Chief Conductor Daniele Rustioni, Muti’s admonitions were followed to the letter, or perhaps more accurately, to the note.
Rustioni clearly inspired both singers, chorus and orchestra and it is easy to understand why he is considered one of the most exciting young opera conductors today. The smiling Milanese maestro is tremendously physical on the podium with crouches, leaps, jumps, jabs and stomps all part of his palpable enthusiasm. From the first luxuriant string crescendo over staccato bassoon warbles during the Preludio, it was clear that Rustioni was going to mould Verdi’s lyrical sculpture with brilliance of a baton-waving Bernini.  Trumpets and trombone fanfares opening the Prologo flipped the mood to noisy militarism in the “Urli, rapine, Gemiti, sangue, stupri, rovine” chorus. The Choeurs de l’Opéra de Lyon was consistently crisp with commendable articulation and attention to the dynamic markings – even with the Italianate “d” in “Wodan”. The storm music before Foresto’s entrance anticipates the first measures of “Otello” and was excitingly played with some excellent piccolo and flute passages over crashing cymbals and pounding timpani. Rustioni handled the big concertante sections particularly well with the climatic crescendi in the Act one “Dinanzi a turba devota e pia” finale being marvelously rhapsodic. The fortissimo Donizetti-esque “Morte, morte, vendetta!” conclusion to Act two was taken at a helter-skelter pace with both chorus and soloists enjoying the ride although it would have been fun if Odabella had interpolated a top E flat at the end. Rustioni’s most impressive strength, however, was in pacing the Verdian rubati and fermate with ease and eloquence.
Operawire, Jonathan Sutherland