There were several cast changes in the final performances of Massenet's "Le Cid" at the Washington Opera, and each of the new arrivals was comfortably integrated into Hugo de Ana's visually lavish production.
In this opera, children are obliged to fight their parents' battles. Thus, the female lead, Chimene, must convince the audience she can go on loving her fiance (sung throughout the run by the company's artistic director, Placido Domingo) while also wishing him dead for having killed her father, the result of avenging his own father's disgrace.
Susan Patterson, as the scheduled replacement for Elisabete Matos, carried the role, mostly. She was believably tender and emotionally wounded in quieter passages, but her soprano grew strident as she forced her tone for full-voiced exclamations. She was often brittle at the top of her range as well, which revealed a shrewish--rather than tormented--persona. In the celebrated aria "Pleurez! Pleurez mes yeux!" she went for a big, hard sound at the cost of vocal warmth, and in the duet that follows she didn't share much chemistry with Domingo. Patterson will be busy with the company this spring, singing the alternate Tosca.
Soprano Shelley Jameson's pretty voice, light in tone, enlivened the small role of the Infanta, the king's daughter, and made her seem properly virginal and entirely likable.
Jason Sterns, with a small baritone, made a timid King of Spain; it's no wonder Chimene's father questioned his decision-making--the rude event that launches the opera's plot. Sterns replaced Kimm Julian, who was already scheduled as the replacement Rigoletto.