Category: Music

Staatsoper Stuttgart: Richard Wagner: Parsifal (March 30th, 2018)

By , March 31, 2018 14:57

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Sylvain Cambreling
Regie: Calixto Bieito
Bühne: Susanne Gschwender
Kostüme: Mercè Paloma
Licht: Reinhard Traub
Chor und Kinderchor: Christoph Heil, Johannes Knecht
Dramaturgie: Xavier Zuber

Amfortas: Markus Marquardt
Gurnemanz: Attila Jun
Parsifal: Daniel Kirch
Klingsor: Tobias Schabel
Kundry: Christiane Libor
Titurel: Matthias Hölle
1. Gralsritter: Heinz Göhrig
2. Gralsritter: Michael Nagl
1. Knappe: Josefin Feiler
2. Knappe: Esther Dierkes
3. Knappe: Torsten Hofmann
4. Knappe: Moritz Kallenberg
1.1. Blumenmädchen: Josefin Feiler
1.2. Blumenmädchen: Esther Dierkes
1.3. Blumenmädchen: Fiorella Hincapié
2.1. Blumenmädchen: Mirella Bunoaica
2.2. Blumenmädchen: Aoife Gibney
2.3. Blumenmädchen / Stimme aus der Höhe: Stine Marie Fischer
Mit: Staatsopernchor Stuttgart, Zusatzchor, Kinderchor der Oper Stuttgart, Staatsorchester Stuttgart

This was my fifth visit to this staging, I was there 8 years and 2 days ago (March 28th, 2010), when it premiered, again in April 2010, March 2011 and May 2013. and I will be there most probably, when the Staatsoper in Stuttgart will put it on their schedule again in the future. This for me is a must see, as it casts a different view on how to perceive Parsifal. I’ve written about that elsewhere, so I will not repeat that. Important for me w.r.t. this specific performance:

Klingsor didn’t act as brutally with the flame-thrower as the Premiere-Cast.
Gurnemanz is way more static in has movements then the Premiere-Cast.
Parsifal lacks breath and a bit of humor, but still acts good.

All in all, Bieito’s intensions and powerful message is still available, even after 8 years.

Musically it didn’t stand Manfred Honeck’s Premiere, but this might not be attributed to Sylvain Cambreling. The Brass-Section during the last years in Stuttgart developed some “independence” from the director, they simply do NOT follow, what the director is indicating in their direction. And Cambreling does indicate a lot and easily consumable (I was sitting in Row 1, middle place, so directly behind him, and I could clearly see, what he did!). Also the Brass-section can NOT start pianissimo without an introductory “Pfft”. They are professionals, they should be able to do so. What a difference it was to hear that from the Berliner under Sir Simon less than a week ago. Also Jun was mainly loud, he lacked differentiation, and Kirch, as mentioned above, lacks some breath.

So in total, staging still stunning and a must see, musically less convincing. Still, I’ve seen and heard worse, so overall a time well spent.

Staatsoper Hamburg: Giuseppe Verdi: Messa da Requiem (March 27th, 2018)

By , March 29, 2018 22:07

First: The obvious (in German):

Inszenierung: Calixto Bieito
Musikalische Leitung: Kevin John Edusei
Bühnenbild: Susanne Gschwender
Kostüme: Anja Rabes
Licht: Franck Evin
Dramaturgie: Janina Zell
Chor: Eberhard Friedrich
Sopran: Maria Bengtsson
Mezzosopran: Nadezhda Karyazina
Tenor: Dmytro Popov
Bass: Gábor Bretz
Orchester: Philharmonisches Staatsorchester Hamburg
Chor: Chor der Hamburgischen Staatsoper

Then, some impressions: https://youtu.be/y7cYktDec9Y
Some more under: https://www.staatsoper-hamburg.de/de/spielplan/stueck.php?AuffNr=146681#pagenav
And: In the journal you can also find impressions and ideas: https://www.staatsoper-hamburg.de/downloads/1718/journal/Journal_2017-18_4.pdf?m=1520254437&

The fact, that I do add more links and external information might give you an indication, that this is something more important to me.

Before going to Hamburg, I did have the chance to watch the production, staged by Christian Spuck, from Zürich, which is also available on DVD/BluRay (https://www.opernhaus.ch/service/shop/dvd-verdi-requiem/) from the 3Sat Mediathek. I also again (as usual) did prepare myself by listening to the opus itself in advance a couple times, here I was using https://www.amazon.de/gp/product/B00D6UV0V4/.

Contrary to many other of Bieito’s stagings (this is my 17th of his stagings, so I guess, I can compare… 🙂 ), this was a very silent staging with slow action on stage, which suited very well with the opus itself, as it allowed the singers to still intensely sing. Also the contrast of some happily playing children in the background of the stage and the mourning adults in the front was intensifying the experince. And Bieito’s usage of the quadratic blocks, which we can also see on graveyards more in the south suited very well with the theme of the Messa.

When the curtain rises, we see a wall of quadrats in the front, open, and each quadrat big enough, that it can hold a person cowering in such a quadrat. Still, there is nothing in, also not any urns, but we can see through onto the colorful back wall of the stage. This gives an impression of the color-glass windows of a modern church.

Later these quadratic walls are moved to the back and the side-walls (also such quadratic blocks) are moved around to open up the space for the chorus, and the children.

As the messa is not really an opera, Bieito, contrary to what Spuck did in Zürich, where there is a huge and very movement-ful Ballett taking place, created a theme of a family with a child. So, we for example, see the Soprano and the child playing soccer, or also even just passing the ball between the two/three of them. All in all, Bieito did find well suiting movements to the music, and also the chorus was included in that stage-action.

For the “Libera me” the quadratic wall from the back comes down very slowly and is laid onto the stage. The chorus starts hiding in the quadratic places, and sings from there, just their heads viewable.

All in all, after close to 80 minutes, I found myself in the chair hoping for a “once again, once again”. Sadly, they didn’t fulfill my wish…

Highly recommended!

Staatstheater Nürnberg: Bernd Alois Zimmermann: Die Soldaten (March 25th, 2018)

By , March 26, 2018 20:34

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Marcus Bosch
Inszenierung: Peter Konwitschny
Bühne und Kostüme: Helmut Brade
Chor: Tarmo Vaask
Dramaturgie: Kai Weßler

Tilmann Rönnebeck (Wesener)
Susanne Elmark (Marie)
Solgerd Isalv (Charlotte)
Helena Köhne (Weseners alte Mutter)
Jochen Kupfer (Stolzius)
Leila Pfister (Stolzius´ Mutter)
Alexey Birkus (Obrist)
Uwe Stickert (Desportes)
Hans Kittelmann (Pirzel)
Antonio Yang (Eisenhardt)
Tim Kuypers (Haudy)
Ludwig Mittelhammer (Mary)
Yongseung Song (Drei junge Offiziere)
Chang Liu (Drei junge Offiziere)
Chool Seomun (Drei junge Offiziere)
Sharon Kempton (Gräfin de la Roche)
Martin Platz (Der junge Graf)
Richard Kindley (Bedienter der Gräfin de la Roche)
Johannes Budelmann (Der junge Fähnrich)
Klaus Brummer (Der betrunkene Offizier)
Manuel Krauß (Drei Hauptleute)
Alexander de Paula (Drei Hauptleute)
Petro Ostapenko (Drei Hauptleute)
Monika Schrödel-Hecht (Mdme. Roux)
Cem Aydin (Drei Fähnriche)
Jona Bergander (Drei Fähnriche)
Nazzareno Putzolu (Drei Fähnriche)
Gabriela Rufino (Andalusierin)
Elena Laros (Zwei Kinder)
Simon Holland (Zwei Kinder)
Staatsphilharmonie Nürnberg, Chor des Staatstheater Nürnberg

Wow! Just Wow! If that will not become a candidate for the staging of the year, then…

After Cherubini’s Medea, another great staging by Peter Konwitschny. And with a cast, that has been singing and playing some of the roles in some other stagings already, liberating them from the problems of dealing with modern 12-tone music and all their specialties. The often changes in the stage setting take place by having them come down from the above, or being pulled up again. And having the orchestra pausing for some moments, so that these changes can be executed completely. All this together with a clear and precise guiding of the actors, and many details in the acting lead to a very convincing experience of this complex modern opera. The fourth (and last) act then has the audience on stage, elaving the theater-audience places empty, which are then used also for staging. Some other parts still happen among the audience on stage, which in total leads to a very intense experience.

Highly recommended!

Festpielhaus Baden-Baden: Richard Wagner: Parsifal (March 24th, 2018)

By , March 25, 2018 12:40

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Sir Simon Rattle
Inszenierung: Dieter Dorn
Bühnenbild: Magdalena Gut
Kostüme: Monika Staykova
Choreographie: Martin Gruber
Licht: Tobias Löffler

Berliner Philharmoniker

Parsifal: Stephen Gould
Kundry: Ruxandra Donose
Gurnemanz: Franz-Josef Selig
Amfortas: Gerald Finley
Klingsor: Evgeny Nikitin
Titurel: Robert Lloyd
Gralsritter: Neal Cooper
Gralsritter: Guido Jentjens
Blumenmädchen: Iwona Sobotka
Blumenmädchen: Kiandra Howarth
Blumenmädchen: Elisabeth Jansson
Blumenmädchen: Mari Eriksmoen
Blumenmädchen: Ingeborg Gillebo
Blumenmädchen: Kismara Pessatti
Knappe: Ingeborg Gillebo
Knappe: Elisabeth Jansson
Knappe: Neal Cooper
Knappe: Iurie Ciobanu
Stimme aus der Höhe: Kismara Pessatti

Philharmonia Chor Wien, Einstudierung: Walter Zeh

You visit Baden-Baden for the musicians, not for the stagings. This was no exception, although I was hoping for something more interesting from Dieter Dorn. Sadly, my hope was not fulfilled. I guess, that’s all that can be said, loved Sir Simon and the Berliner, the singers all were good to very good (no exception). So it was a very nice good-bye to Sir Simon with the Berliner from the orchestra pit of an opera house.

Oper Frankfurt: Giacomo Meyerbeer: L’Africaine – Vasco da Gama (March, 11th, 2018)

By , March 13, 2018 10:07

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Antonello Manacorda
Regie: Tobias Kratzer
Bühnenbild und Kostüme: Rainer Sellmaier
Licht: Jan Hartmann
Video: Manuel Braun
Chor, Extrachor: Tilman Michael
Dramaturgie: Konrad Kuhn

Vasco da Gama: Michael Spyres
Selika: Claudia Mahnke
Nelusko: Brian Mulligan
Ines: Kirsten MacKinnon
Don Pedro: Andreas Bauer
Don Diego: Thomas Faulkner
Der Großinquisitor von Lissabon: Magnús Baldvinsson
Der Oberpriester des Brahma: Magnús Baldvinsson
Don Alvar: Michael McCown
Anna: Bianca Andrew

This was my first Meyerbeer and my second staging by Tobias Kratzer (his Meisteringer in Karlsruhe were my first, his Götterdämmerung in Karlsruhe will be my third), and I have to say, that this is a staging, everybody should go and see!

What Kratzer did together with his dramatic advisor Konrad Kuhn, who also gave a splendid introduction before the opera, was solving the problem of space and time (the l’Africaine should be an Indian, and the Manzanilla-tree is officially located in the Bahamas (but none of those facts were known during da Gama’s period, but they were know 300 hundred years later, when Meyerbeer took these pieces to construct a setting), so time and location are wrong in the original script!) by moving the stage into outer space and into the future. People here know, that I love Ruth Berghaus’ Tristan staging in Hamburg for exactly that: Intelligent (but still oriented and based on facts from the libretto) transformation of the opera, so that we today can learn and experience, what such old things still can tell and teach us today.

And Tobias Kratzer did that splendidly. His Meistersinger in Karlsruhe were a very traditionally but humorous setting, still based in Nürnberg, because Wagner did not create as ludicrous deviations from such a traditional setting into his script. Whereas Meyerbeer did in his last grand opera. So, Tobias Kratzer solves as an example in his staging of l’Africaine – Vasco da Gama the problem of women on board of expedition ships by “beaming” them into the scene via Video-Conferencing. There are much more such beautiful ideas, and the audience can laugh happily about many of them during the five hours (Kuhn and Kratzer still removed around 40 minutes (according to Kuhn during his introduction) from the original plot!).

This is a staging, everyone should visit, it’s funny, the singers/actors are splendid, their french is easily understandable, they do act on stage.

At the end there were standing ovations for all.

Highly recommended!

Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden: Richard Wagner: Tannhäuser (January, 28th, 2018)

By , February 15, 2018 22:24

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Patrick Lange
Inszenierung: Uwe Eric Laufenberg
Bühne: Rolf Glittenberg
Kostüme: Marianne Glittenberg
Video: Gérard Naziri
Chor: Albert Horne
Licht: Andreas Frank
Dramaturgie: Regine Palmai

Hermann, Landgraf von Thüringen: Young Doo Park
Tannhäuser: Lance Ryan
Elisabeth: Sabina Cvilak
Venus: Jordanka Milkova
Wolfram von Eschenbach: Benjamin Russell
Walther von der Vogelweide: Aaron Cawley
Biterolf: Thomas de Vries
Heinrich der Schreiber: Joel Scott
Reinmar von Zweter: Alexander Knight
Ein junger Hirt: Stella An
Nymphen und Grazien: Charlotte Dambach, Viviana Defazio, Laurin Thomas, Rouven Pabst, Nicholas Bruder
Vier Edelknaben: Eunshil Jung, Hyerim Park, Isolde Ehinger, Daniela Rücker
Chor & Extrachor des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Statisterie des Hessischen Staatstheaters Wiesbaden, Hessisches Staatsorchester Wiesbaden

First of all: I don’t like Laufenberg, what he did to Parsifal in Bayreuth is a sacrileg. Second: This Tannhäuser isn’t as bad. Third: It need not be Christian Gerhaher to sing a great Wolfram.

Uwe Eric Laufenberg is a director, who has some good ideas, but always fails in making these ideas “round” and consistent in a staging. So his stagings jump from one idea to the next, always leaving us in a stage of “what the fuck does he now want to tell us?”

Tannhäuser is all about the conflict between “true love” and “pure sex”. That alone is something, that would need more than just some naked bodies dancing across the stage. Calixto’s approach (as in his staging, which I saw in Bern, and which will soon be re-staged in Leipzig) was to make this “conflict” visible by having the people, who represent one side of the coin (Wolfram: “true love”, Tannhäuser: “pure sex”) really fight each other on stage. Laufenberg just tried to display the torn emotions by using symbols (“naked girls” and “longing gestures”). This “more clinical” approach then conflicts with the nakedness of the dancers, so it leaves us in a stage of “WTF?.

Lance Ryan also added to this problematic staging. Yes, he’s a powerful actor, but his voice…

But then there was Benjamin Russell, who made us long for his “Ode an den Abendstern” from the first momement he opened his mouth. Thanks for that!

Luckily, Patrick Lange also made a great leader of the orchestra, so in total it was an evening worth spending.

Oper Stuttgart: Luigi Cherubini: Medea (January 31st, 2018)

By , February 15, 2018 22:04

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Alejo Pérez
Inszenierung: Peter Konwitschny
Bühne und Kostüme: Johannes Leiacker
Licht: Reinhard Traub
Chor: Christoph Heil
Dramaturgie: Bettina Bartz

Medea: Cornelia Ptassek
Iason: Sebastian Kohlhepp
Kreon: Shigeo Ishino
Kreusa: Josefin Feiler
Neris: Helene Schneiderman
1. Brautjungfer: Aoife Gibney
2. Brautjungfer: Fiorella Hincapié
Mit: Staatsopernchor Stuttgart, Staatsorchester Stuttgart

Peter Konwitschny is one of those, who have a distinct hand in doing their stagings. This has been my 10th staging from him, and I liked it!

Peter, like Calixto, is one of those, who know, how to make singers act and perform. And in an opera, which has the topic of a split marriage and the children as topics of battle between ex-wife and husband, and them being sacrificed on the altar of this marriage-gone-wrong is a topic, which needs a guiding hand in staging.

Peter places the first two acts into a kitchen placed onto the beach of greece. This kitchen becomes cluttered with debris over time, just like humanity uses this planet as a resource, that we all assume as granted, and nothing worth caring about. This attitude of neglect also transpires into the actions of all acting people, there’s none, who really cares. In act three, the back-walls of the kitchen are removed, and we see the sea cluttered in plastic debris, just like the characters have been “just using” all living items for their own pleasure and benefit.

It’s a strong staging in using this child-murder theme to make us think about how we murder our planet. A typical Konwitschny, and a very good one!

Komische Oper Berlin: Franz Schreker: Die Gezeichneten (February 10th, 2018)

By , February 15, 2018 21:50

First: The obvious (in German):

Musikalische Leitung: Stefan Soltész
Inszenierung: Calixto Bieito
Bühnenbild: Rebecca Ringst
Kostüme: Ingo Krügler
Dramaturgie: Simon Berger
Chöre: David Cavelius
Licht: Franck Evin
Video: Sarah Derendinger

Herzog Antoniotto Adorno: Joachim Goltz
Graf Andrae Vitelozzo Tamare: Michael Nagy
Lodovico Nardi, Podestà der Stadt Genua: Jens Larsen
Carlotta Nardi, seine Tochter: Ausrine Stundyte
Alviano Salvago, ein genuesischer Edelmann: Peter Hoare
Guidobald Usodimare: Adrian Strooper
Menaldo Negroni: Ivan Turšić
Michelotto Cibo: Tom Erik Lie
Gonsalvo Fieschi: Johnathan McCullough
Julian Pinelli: Önay Köse
Paolo Calvi: Samuli Taskinen
Il Capitaneo di Giustizia: Joachim Goltz
Ginevra Scotti: Katarzyna Włodarczyk
Martuccia, Haushälterin bei Salvago: Christiane Oertel
Pietro: Christoph Späth
Ein Mädchen: Mirka Wagner
Ein Jüngling: Emil Ławecki
Chorsolisten der Komischen Oper Berlin, Vocalconsort Berlin

This has been my 17th staging by Calixto, and sadly, I have to admit, it’s not been his best.

But, let’s start at the beginning.

Schreker’s opus is an opus, which has a difficult topic, especially, when it comes close to what one might have experienced oneself. Calixto mentioned, that he has also experienced abuse as a child, so I did assume, that this opera might be one of those, in which he would be at his best. Sadly, there were only a couple elements/pictures, which were so good and strong, that they convinced me. The “painting”, that Carlotta does of Alviano performed as a stagging of a wall with a knife is one of those pictures, that stuck. Her breaking free at the end of Act 2 in kicking the last piece of that painting through the wall, and vanishing with Alviano into the dark behind the stage, is part of that. The intensity of Carlotta murdering Tamare at the end of Act 3 is another one of these rare intense moments, that we all long for, when going to a Bieito staging.

These moments were made possible by the outstanding performances of Ausrine Stundyte, Peter Hoare and Michael Nagy. These three alone made it worth visiting this staging, with all its shortcomings.

So, what are these shortcomings?

Calixto mentioned (in the comments from him in the booklet to this staging), that he took the theme of robbing young girls and putting them into the Elysium “playground” a step further by also using boys, and by making this Elysium like Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch. Huge Teddy Bears and other child pets were on display in Act three. So, trying to make Alviano and Tamare and the other Grandes into unknowing, never-to-be-getting-adult-children is a good idea, but it would have needed some more convincing flow of this theme in the overall staging. Having also videos of the abusers’ faces displayed on the stage’s back in act 1 and 2 also were a topic of his interpretation. Sadly, the monotonous video-display (two full acts) and the boys didn’t really hold for the length they were on display.

But again, still worth visiting, even the not-so-good stagings from Calixto are still something to keep in mind and to continue to think about. And with the orchestra and its director in such good shape, that also makes a visit a thing to remember.

Capriccio-Kulturforum

By , July 15, 2009 11:11

Tja, was soll ich sagen: Wer Lust und Zeit und Interesse hat, sich über klassische Musik et.al. auszutauschen, findet hier das beste deutschsprachige Forum dazu: http://www.capriccio-kulturforum.de/

Liebe Grüße,

Matthias

Thomas Hampson in Heidelberg, again

By , April 23, 2009 03:08

Yesterday I was at the Heidelberger Frühling, visiting Thomas Hampson‘s Liederabend. When we bought the tickets, it was indicated, that he might be singing Schumann’s op. 39, something, that Thomas did not yet sing or record. Sadly that had been reverted to op. 35, and the concert also did cover Liszt songs and some of the Rückert songs by Mahler.

It seems, Thomas had hay fever, like many in the audience. That coughing “even in the quietest moments” is a bad habit, that does seem to get worse every time. Thomas was (due to the hay fever?) not as good, it seemed, he had some problems with the upper notes, but still, his voice is good, and his pronunciation of german is exquisit.

So, with some mixed emotions, I did enjoy the concert, but had heard better of him already.

Matthias

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