Washington Concert Opera triumphantly returns with Rossini’s “Maometto II”
“Crocetto, last under review in WNO’s 2019 Otello, was a sensation as Anna. Her many virtuosic runs shimmered with clarity and precision, and she displayed consummate control of her tone, from demure sweetness to overwhelming power on explosive top notes.
In “Giusto ciel,” the solo moment in the middle of Rossini’s complex Terzettone in Act I, Crocetto murmured her whispered prayer with a velvety legato, accompanied delicately by harpist Eric Sabatino. She held the blazing high note with impeccable force and beauty at the end of Act I— just one of many examples of her potent top register.”
“On this evening, soprano Leah Crocetto’s singing dispelled any notion of Anna being a lesser sister of Rossini’s renowned rôles for Colbran.
Crocetto introduced her complex, evolving Anna with an arresting voicing of the Andante cavatina ‘Ah! che invan sul mesto ciglio’ in which the voice was used not as a disembodied instrument but as a conduit for the text. Having negotiated the Terzettone’s trills, grupetti, and top Bs with stylistic fluency, Crocetto voiced the Andantino preghiera ‘Guisto ciel, in tal periglio’ enchantingly, her legato as mesmerizing as her coloratura. In the final scene of Act One, she sang first ‘Ritrovo l’amante nel crudo nemico’ and then ‘Rendimi il padre, o barbaro’ with abandon, ending the act with a mammoth top C.
Anna’s duet with Maometto in Act Two prefigures Verdi’s music for Odabella and Attila, and Crocetto’s Verdian credentials were evident in her sensational but sensitive singing of ‘Sì: non t’inganni…Ah, tanto la pena mi s’addoppia,’ her top C again employed to accentuate the profundity of the character’s emotions. Grief tinged the soprano’s voice with gathering shadows in the terzettino with Calbo and Erisso, memories of Anna’s mother melding with love for her father and burgeoning warmth for Calbo.
The sincerity of expression of Crocetto’s account of the preghiera ‘Ferve dunque la pugna’ was deeply touching, the delicate cantilena sustained on the breath in a manner reminiscent of Montserrat Caballé. In Crocetto’s performance, the rondò ‘Quella morte che s’avanza’ was a decisive act of defiance. Preferring taking her own life to surrendering to a dishonorable passion in the opera’s final scene, Crocetto underscored the kinship between Rossini’s Anna and Berlioz’s Cassandre. Perhaps Isabella Colbran was no longer at her best at the time of Maometto secondo’s première, but Rossini’s trust in her musical and histrionic abilities was abundantly validated by Crocetto’s magnificent singing of the rôle.”