Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Giacomo Puccini, Tosca - Linzer Musiktheater

Performance 26th December

As second part of my opera marathon I saw Puccini's Tosca, also in Linz. The production of Rainer Mennicken (director), Stefan Brandtmayr (stage) and Cornelia Kraske (costumes) was very classy and conservative. I really liked it but I'm sure some people thought it was too conventional.
Marc Reibel conducted the work very expressive with very effective details and great dynamic contrasts. The Brucknerorchester Linz also did a good job following his instructions and found a great balance between dramatic outbursts and ravishing melodies.
The small roles of Spoletta, Sciarrone, Schliesser (doorkeeper) and Hirt (shepherd) were sung by Iurie Ciobanu, Marius Mocan, Boris Daskalov and Jakob Reiter. All of them did a fine job in their little roles.
The role of the sacristan was sung by Franz Binder. His voice seemed a little bit rough and uneven but because of that it fitted the role of the old sacristan even more. He portrayed the role quite well and convincing.
Ulf Bunde sang Angelotti with a really beautiful heroic baritone voice. He showed us a very desperate but promising rebel with great visions.
Tuomas Pursio performed the evil role of Scarpia and was a great antagonist with a very strong heroic baritone voice. He did a great job showing the obsession of Scarpia with Tosca and was vocally really convincing.
Cavaradossi was sung by Pedro Velázquez Díaz who has a quite light voice for this role even though his voice is quite powerful. Still he seemed a little bit strained from time to time, especially in the upper register and his high notes did not come really easy. Nevertheless his performance was not bad at all and he managed to capture the spirit of the role adequately.
The title role was performed by Myung Joo Lee who has a very beautiful powerful soprano with a easy but strong upper register and enough power in the lower register. Her acting as jealous singer also was very convincing and she knew how to combine acting and singing in order to obtain credibility.
I really liked the performance and I give it 7 stars.
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Richard Wagner, Siegfried - Linzer Musiktheater

Performance 25th December

As first part of my christmas opera marathon I heard the third opera of the ring cycle of the Linzer Landestheater. I already saw Rheingold (exactly one year earlier) and Walküre (in June) and was impressed that the productions were actually really good (if you think of the size of the house). Even though Siegfried is my anti-favorite of the four operas I like this production best from the Linzer Ring. The singing was mostly really top and the staging wasn't that bad either. Uwe Eric Laufenberg (who will do the 2016 Bayreuth Parsifal instead of Jonathan Meese) did a good job as director together with Gisbert Jäkel (stage) and Antje Sternberg (costumes). The whole concept was very clear and had some impressive parts (for example the video montages).
Dennis Russell Davies obviously likes Siegfried better because this time his conducting was really good and was full of power, subtleties and great phrasing. The Brucknerorchester Linz had no problems to realise his desires and played really well with great dynamic contrasts and nice soli.
Matthäus Schmidlechner sang a very strong Mime with exemplary diction. You could hear every single syllable so clear that it seemed that he is talking normally. His whole portrayal of the role was really impressive and totally convincing.
Mime's brother, Alberich, was sung by Bjørn Waag who has a huge voice. I was really blown away by the sheer power of his voice even though he might not have the usual darkness for this role in his voice. This voice truly has no problems to be covered at all. Besides, the timbre of the voice is also very beautiful und heroic, just not really perfect for this role.
Dominik Nekel sang Fafner the giant / dragon and also did a fine job with this profound and interesting role. He had both, the low notes and the timbre to portray the huge sleeping dragon.
In the role of Wanderer / Wotan we had the pleasure to hear Gerd Grochowski again who I liked even better this time. His voice emits great elegance and nobility, but at the same time power and danger. His heroic and noble timbre fitted the role perfectly and he also acted really well and convincingly.
As Erda I heard someone I already knew from the Erl Festival: Elena Suvorova. What can I say, her voice is quite powerful and is able to sing the low notes of this profound role without any problems. Her timbre is dark and still noble and superior. The whole Erda scene gave me shivers and I really enjoyed the great singing.
Another great singer in a small role was Elisabeth Breuer as Waldvogel. She has a lovely light voice with a very beautiful timbre and great agility. She sang this role exactly as I imagine it and made the scene in the woods one of the highlights of the evening.
Lars Cleveman was the only one I was not totally satisfied with. His diction was really bad and I would not have found out which language it was if I didn't know it was German. He might have a strong voice but it was not that impressive. Sometimes his timbre reminded me of James King but that was all. I hope he will improve until Götterdämmerung.
Elena Nebera was my personal highlight of the evening. I really did not expect her to be so outstanding. She definitely improved enormously since Walküre and totally nailed it with the Siegfried-Brünnhilde. Her diction was really good this time and her phrasing also improved a lot. Her upper register sounded way stronger, more controlled and did not have a strong vibrato at all. Her high b's and high c's were great, powerful and not as short as the ones of many other Brünnhildes.
Finally I am really happy that I took the chance to see this performance because it was really great and I liked every minute of it. The performance gets totally earned 8 stars.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Richard Strauss, Ariadne auf Naxos - Oper Stuttgart

Performance 18th December

Some days ago I went to Stuttgart to see the production of Strauss' and Hofmannsthal's second collaboration: Ariadne auf Naxos. The production itself was just total nonsense, but the singing was really great. Directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito decided to reverse the order of the opera and play the opera (2nd act) first and afterwards the Vorspiel (1st act). Their  reason was Hofmannsthal's attribute of the work: Oper in einem Aufzuge nebst einem Vorspiel. They thought that NEBST would not indicate that the Vorspiel has to be performed first. Even though the plot DEFINITELY displays the preperations of the second act!!! I never heard such nonsense! What a pity, because the staging and the costumes (Anna Viebrock) were not that bad and locked quite lovely from time to time.
At least the musical part was quite good . Georg Fritzsch conducted the work very clear with a great dynamic bandwidth from very intimate to dramatic outbursts (even with the small chamber orchestra). He pointed out many lovely details from the score and the orchestra (Staatsorchester Stuttgart) did a good job following his instructions.
And now the singers of the Vorspiel: the music teacher was sung by Michael Ebbecke, who had a powerful voice with a very profound depth. Only his diction could have been a little bit better for making his performance perfect.
The speaking role of the Haushofmeister was performed by André Jung. In my opinion he acted a little bit boring and it seemed as he would just read down his words. I would have expected more acting.
Sophie Marilley sang the composer and did a great job in that role. Her timbre reminded me several times of Tatiana Troyanos, even though Marilley's voice might not be as big as Troyanos'. Still she acted thrillingly and played the young impulsive boy very convincingly.
As Tanzmeister we heard Daniel Kluge who has a lovely strong tenor voice with a very heroic but still quite youthful timbre. I really enjoyed his singing and think he could do greatly in bigger roles.
The smaller roles (Lakai, Offizier, Perückenmacher) were performed by members of the opera studio. Eric Ander, Thomas Elwin and Dominic Große did a good job and proved their qualities.
Now the singers of the opera: As men's quartet Harlekin, Scaramuccio, Truffaldin and Brighella we heard André Morsch, Heinz Göhring, Roland Bracht and Torsten Hofmann. All four of them did a good job and sounded fine together.
The nymphs also sounded quite good together. Najade was sung by Lauryna Bendziunaite who has a very powerful voice that is able to sing in the high register without any problems. Unfortunately she sounded a little bit to powerful from time to time for this has to be sung more delicate and the phrasing must be more fluid (especially in their first scene). If she had sung a little bit subtly it would have been nearly perfect. Dryade was sung by Stine Marie Fischer who has a very strong profound mezzo soprano and sang very tastefully. Her voice was very agile and gave a good foundation for the nymph scenes because vocally she seemed to be the "leader". Josephin Feiler sang the lovely role of Echo and also did a good job with it. She sang her dreamy lines really lovely and delicate without being covered.
Stefan Vinke performed the roles of Bacchus and the tenor. He has a quite strong tenor voice that sometimes seems to take some time to take off. His strength were the parts in the middle register. In the higher register he seemed quite strained sometimes and some of the higher notes did not come easily. But of course this role is a challenge for any tenor with its enormously high tessitura. Moreover he seemed more relaxed in the Vorspiel, maybe because the vocals there lie a little bit lower than in the opera.
Julia Bauer sang the breakneck role of Zerbinetta. She managed the enormous range quite well and did not have any problems with the several high notes beyond c6. Her coloraturas were exemplary and were really fluid. Her phrasing also was very nice and showed great musical taste. The only deficit was that she had some issues with being covered by the orchestra. Her soprano is very light and clear like a bell but her stamina seems to have some potential for improvement. If she manages to work on that she might be a promising singer.
The title role Ariadne and the role of the primadonna were performed by my favorite soprano, Christiane Libor. As I expected she did great in this role. She has a great lower register with a very beautiful timbre (unlike many other Ariadnes) and no problems at all with the high register up to the c6 in "Es gibt ein Reich". The enormous beauty of her voice and the sheer power of her stamina always manage to impress me anew. She will debut at the Salzburg Festival next year and hopefully will come more often afterwards.
The vocal performance of this evening's singers was great but because of the crappy production I only award 8 stars.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Max Bruch, Die Loreley - Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Prinzregententheater

Performance 23rd November

For the second Sonntagskonzert of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester I once again made my way to Munich for another rarity of the opera repertory: Max Bruch's Loreley.
The opera, which premiered in 1863 is very traditional and was already outdated when it premiered. The music sounds like from 40 years earlier most of the time. Nevertheless there are some great melodies and lovely ensembles.
Stefan Blunier conducted the orchestra very clear and showed many interesting details of the score. He found the perfect balance between the intimate parts and the great choral scenes. The orchestra once again showed that they are able to perform an opera with great virtuosity and great musical taste. The Prager Philharmonischer Chor also gave the audience chills during the many choir scenes. They were able to display many kinds of atmospheres, from the myserious scenes on the banks of the Rhine to the great scenes at the wedding. But also the cast was very well chosen and gave a magnificent performance.
Sebastian Campione as Hubert (Lenore's father) was singing very beautifully with great power and a very expressive but also noble bass voice. He handled his part with fine musicality and pointed out the beautiful vocal lines of the score.
The archbishop was sung by Thomas Hamberger who has a very powerful authoritarian voice with a very profound gravity. His voice matched the role of the high priest really well and he knew how to radiate his power.
Reinald the minstrel was performed by Jan-Hendrik Rootering who is a quite well known singer for German repertory. He did a good job although his voice sometimes sounded very nasal and his diction could have been better as well.
Benedikt Eder sang the small role of Leupold (Otto's servant). He seemed to be very young but his voice already sounded quite mature with a very noble timbre and a very gentle tone.
Another small role with a great singer was the role of the Winzerin, which was sung by greek soprano Danae Kontora. What a lovely voice and what a beautiful woman! Her light soprano has an incredibly delicate sound and is pure like the voice of an angel. She managed within her short song to thrill the audience from the first note she sang. Bravo!
Magdalena Hinterdobler performed the role of Bertha (Otto's wife) and also did a great job. Her lyric soprano has enough power to surpass the orchestra but also sounds very beautifully and delicate at the same time. Her great cavatine in the second act was one of the big highlights and was rewarded by immense applause.
Pfalzgraf Otto was sung by Thomas Mohr has a definitely Wagner-proven tenor voice. His stamina is exemplary although he sometimes sounded quite strained in the higher register. Nevertheless he found a good balance between dramatic and lyric singing and holded out the whole evening.
Lenore, later Loreley, was sung by soprano Michaela Kaune who has a very beautiful voice with quite clean transitions between the registers and a lovely timbre. She managed to show the different shades of the characters vocally (first very lyric singing, towards the end getting very dramatic). Sometimes I had the feeling she did not feel totally comfortable in the higher register but she did not fail at any moment. Her final Loreley-song was very beautifully performed and had something magic.
All in all I would give the performance 7 stars.
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