I went last night to the Liceu to see the final performance of this season's Adriana Lecouvreur, with Roberto Alagna, Barbara Fritolli, Dolora Zajick and Joan Pons. It was my second time, having already reported on the opening night with the same cast.
I was very enthusiastic then, though slightly less so than the rest of the audience because I found it just a bit too relentlessly fortissimo. But I was blown away by this final performance, as was the rest of the audience. The singing was flawless, the orchestra was vibrant, the staging, as I already knew, was exactly as it should be: it was the Liceu at the top of its game.
The curtain calls were endless and Alagna and Fritolli fooled around joyously, making the audience roar with appreciation. Their final coup was to go to the front of the stage, bend down and literally haul the aged, timid prompter out of his little cage and make him the central, totally dazed figure of the next curtain call. He cooperated valiantly and scuttled off stage as soon as he could.
The whole evening was a wonderful example of the Liceu spirit at its best: much less self-conscious and formal, and much more freewheeling than most other opera houses I have visited. (Did you know that in Middle Europe, the audience shows its enthusiasm by clapping in rhythmic unison? I find it very spooky!)