Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Henry Purcell, Dido and Aeneas - Salzburger Festspiele, Felsenreitschule

Performance 18th August

One of my highlights of this summer was a concert version (at least they announced it as a concert version) of Purcell's only real opera and I was looking forward to it with thrilling anticipation. In the end they made a very reduced production which had an enormous impact. Concept and direction were made by conductor Thomas Hengelbrock. Costumes and staging were made by Florence von Gerkan. The whole production was very minimalistic but very elegant and extremely emotional. The whole scenery with the arcades of the Felsenreitschule were magnificent and looked marvelously together with the staging.
Musically Thomas Hengelbrock and the Balthasar Neumann Ensemble were playing so brilliantly that one was just blown away by the wonderful music. Everything sounded so delicately and tastefull. But even the wilder parts were thrilling and ravishing. The Balthasar Neumann Chor also was just breathtaking perfect. The several choir parts sounded exceptionally and I could not imagine it being performed better. Especially during the last scene, when the choir joined the ensemble in the orchestra pit (where there were no lights on anymore) and just the arcades and four fire bowls enlightend the stage the effect was genuinely breathtaking (almost literally).
In the smaller roles Hermann Oswald convinced as a drunk and reckless sailor. Marion Eckstein sang the Second Witch and the Spirit with her lovely dark and warm voice. Anne Bierwirth let us hear her strong dark alto voice in the role of the First Witch. Agnes Kovacs gave a very beautiful sounding second woman with a very beautiful soprano.
Katja Stuber as Belinda also was a very delightful casting choice. Her light beautiful soprano is clear like a bell and sounded heavenly. Also her diction was impressive for you were able to understand almost everything she sang.
 A great highlight for me was actress Johanna Wokalek as Sorceress. Wokalek wrote several new texts which were added before, during and after the opera. Those texts explained the figure of the sorceress a little bit better and fitted perfectly into the whole piece. Wokalek did not actually sing her role in the usual operatic style but with her normal voice. Now I have to admit that I was a little surprised when she began to sing, but in fact her intontation was perfect and I thought that the cold rough timbre of her voice suited the role perfectly. Afterwards I had to admit that the idea was just marvelous and the effect totally worked out.
As Aeneas we heard british baritone Benedict Nelson who I personally liked the least. He sang well but I often wished that his singing would be clearer. It was not because of his voice, more a matter of style. I thought Purcell calls for clarity and pure tone. Nevertheless he gave a fine performance, I just liked the other soloists more.
Dido was sung by mezzosoprano Kate Lindsey whose voice is very clear and pure. Her singing seemed so natural and honest! Sometimes she sang so gently that you almost had to stop breathing to hear her (and I mean that in the most positive was!!). You could genuinely hear the pain and agony of her character in her singing. Her Lamento was not from this world and almost got me crying. Especially when the four fire bowls went out exactly at the end of the piece.
After all I can say that this probably was the best performance I saw for years!! Everything worked out perfectly together. They relinquished all the opulence and decadence of the late baroque and showed the opera in her real shape: a dramatic piece that displays human emotions and feelings so convincingly that it hits the audience right in their heart. Therefore this performance of Purcell's opera gets full 10 stars (a pity they just played it only once). BRAVO, BRAVO, BRAVO!!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Richard Wagner, Der fliegende Holländer - Bayreuther Festspiele

Performance 15th August

My final evening in Bayreuth took place with a performance of the first Wagner opera I ever heard: the flying dutchman. I did have a very cheap seat, so I did not see much of the stage (which probably was not a bad thing at all). Jan Philipp Gloger's production is quite boring and it would not have made a difference if they had played it without production. Christof Hetzer's staging looked funny and interesting from time to time but not more. Karin Jud's costumes also were boring and seemed thoughtlessly.
Conductor Axel Kober and the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele gave a marvelous performance with extreme accuracy and exemplary phrasing. The orchestra played so accentuated and accurately that the results were thrilling. The Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele was even better. For me the choir was one of the highlights with their several famous scenes. They performed really magnificently and especially the great choir scene at the beginning of the third act was marvelous.
Benjamin Bruns gave a strong performance as Steuermann with his powerful light tenor voice. His timbre is a mix of heroic and youthful and worked perfectly in this role. Christa Mayer once again gave a solid performance in the small role of Mary (what a luxurious choice once more). This time her lower register and her agility fitted wonderfully into the vocal requirements of the role. Her acting was lovely and cute.
Tomislav Mužek sang the role of Erik ( I already heard him in this role in Dresden in June). Still I think that he is not yet ready for this role. I often think that Erik is casted with voices that are too light and not dramatic enough. If you study the score it is clear that the role calls for a dramatic tenor with a youthful timbre. Mužek might become a good Erik but for now I think he should sing lighter repertoire.
Daland was sung by Kwangchul Youn who has a strong profound bass voice with a very dark and serious timbre. I probably liked him best because his performance was more than solid and he was able to portray his character very appropriately.
Ricarda Merbeth sang Senta and showed that this role is more difficult than most people might think. Merbeth hit every note and her diction was very clear (even though it sounded weird from time to time). But to sing Wagner means more than just hit the right notes. You could clearly hear that her voice is not dramatic enough and her acting is just hidious. Very often she showed that she is not able to sing the very accentuated dramatic parts of the role appropriately. She should go on singing roles of the lyric-dramatic fach because that is where her voice belongs.
The title role was performed by Samuel Youn who also hit all notes without problems, but I missed the interpretation. For me he is not a real dutchman because he was not able to deliver the character appropriately. Normally one should fear this strange creepy character but Youn was not able to fill the role with life.
I was a little bit disappointed by the casting but had a nice evening anyway (thanks to orchestra and choir). There is space for improvement when it comes to casting in Bayreuth (as well as the productions). I still enjoyed it and give 8 stars to the performance.

Richard Wagner, Tristan und Isolde - Bayreuther Festspiele

Performance 13th August

My second Bayreuth journey started with a performance of the new production of Tristan and Isolde (my third Tristan production within approximately 1 1/2 months). The highly anticipated production was responsible for several small scandals concerning the casting of Isolde.
The production led by Wagner descendant Katharina Wagner was very intersting and featured some details really worth seeing. The stage was made by Frank Philipp Schlößmann and Matthias Lippert and looked really marvelously. Especially the crazy staircase scenery during the first act depicted the hopelessness of the loving pair incredibly well. Also the costumes by Thomas Kaiser looked great and very elegant. Especially Isolde's blue coat was a real eye catcher.
Musically Christian Thielemann, the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele and the Chor der Bayreuther Festspiele were magnificent. Thielemann made me hear details I never heard before and especially the special Bayreuth acoustics made it sound even more mysterious and mystic. I never heard Tristan and Isolde being played  so dramatically and intensively before.
Most of the singers also sang on a very high niveau and convinced me. Tansel Akzeybek sang both the young sailsman and the sheppard and sounded lovely with his light and beautiful bright tenor voice. So did Kay Stiefermann in the small role of the helmsman.
As Melot Raimund Nolte was a very strong casting choice with a very strong but still clear voice. His diction was exemplary and I thought it was a pity that his part was not longer.
Iain Paterson also gave a strong performance with a very powerful heroic baritone voice. I personally liked the different colors of his voice and he definitely knew how to use it properly. Also his acting was very good and made especially the third act more interesting to me than usually.
Christa Mayer sang Isolde's maid Brangäne with a strong beautiful voice. Her upper register sometimes seems a little bit uncontrolled (only a bit) but her phrasing and the whole interpretation were really enjoyable. If she had a broader lower register it would have been perfect but still it was a luxurious casting choice.
Georg Zeppenfeld once again convinced me, this time as King Marke. His profound dark bass voice is perfect for this role. I loved his acting which depicted Marke not as the poor victim but as an evil heartless tyrant. I wonder if there is a role in which he could not convince me...
Isolde, which was the main subject of this year's scandals in Bayreuth, was now performed by Evelyn Herlitzius (before Eva-Maria Westbroek and Anja Kampe were scheduled to perform it). I really do not like Herlitzius and I was very disappointed when she jumped in. Nevertheless I think we have to be thankfull that she did and she obviously is not disliked by everyone. I still think that she is just loud and her phrasing is horrible. Her first high b during the first act was totally off tune, as well as the first high c during the second act. She always shortens longer notes and teares phrases apart because of that. In my opinion she should stop singing those roles (maybe she can still sing Elektra, which would still work with this voice).
The main highlight for me was Stephen Gould as Tristan. I do not care about the tenors normally, but Gould was just phenomenal in this role. He seemed not to have any problems with the high parts of the role but also the lower parts were strong. I think at the moment there is no better Tristan (except maybe Peter Seiffert) but this was a performance on the highest level.
I personally liked the performance very much and thought that Katharina Wagner did a good job. Of course not everything was perfect but it surely was a solid performance. I give Bayreuth's new Tristan 9 stars.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Le Nozze di Figaro - Salzburger Festspiele, Haus für Mozart

Performance 12th August

The third part of Salzburg's current Da Ponte cycle is Figaro's marriage in a wonderful production of the current director of the festival Sven-Eric Bechtolf. He transferres the plot into the early 20th century and created a very beautiful, funny and convincing version that reminded me of the British TV series Downton Abbey. The staging (Alex Eales) and the costumes (Mark Bouman) just looked marvelously and very beautifully. Especially the ladies had wonderful costumes that looked really elegantly and stylishly.
But not just optically the performance was a success, also musically. Conductor Dan Ettinger and the Wiener Philharmoniker gave a very tasteful performance with brilliance and sense for the beautiful melodies that Mozart wrote for this opera. The orchestra sounded lushly and very delicately.The Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor also gave a fine performance during the few choir scenes.
In the smaller roles of Don Basilio, Don Curzio, Barbarina and Antonio we heard  Paul Schweinester (what a very beautiful voice), Franz Supper (solid as always), Christine Gansch (also a lovely voice) and Erik Anstine.
Carlos Chausson gave a very noble and elegant Don Bartolo with his noble timbre. His voice suited the role perfectly and his performance was really good. He and Murray were responsible for many of the audience's laughter.
Someone who impressed me very much was British mezzo Dame Ann Murray who still has quite some power and a very solid voice. Murray shows that female singers would certainly be able to sing on a high level for several decades if they look after their voices appropriately.
Margarita Gritskova sang a lovely Cherubino with a quite beautiful voice and a very warm clear timbre. Also her acting was lovely and made her portrayal really convincing. Her voice has such seamless transitions that everything she sings just sounds wonderful.
Martina Janková obviously had no voice in the morning but managed to be able to sing in the evening. There was no sign that she was ill at all. Her light and clear soprano sounded great with its very delicate and beautiful timbre. But not just vocally she was convincing, also her acting showed that she is a first class performer, especially for Mozart roles.
Her Figaro, Adam Plachetka, also performed marvelously with his strong and wide baritone voice. His voice was a good contrast to the count with its solid sympathetic timbre. His whole performance was a great symbiosis of singing and acting. He was able to show every shade of his character with his singing.
The role of the count was sung by Italian baritone Luca Pisaroni. His voice is very changeable and he sang a very noble, but also very human count with all his deficits. In contrast to many other interpretations he also was a quite funny count. Many lovely details made this role much more sympathetic than it normally appears to be.
As Countess we heard young German soprano Anett Fritsch who sang Donna Elvira last year. Her voice is very delicat but also quite strong with a wide lyric timbre. I had my doubts if she would be able to fill this role appropriately but I do have to say she did a good job. I personally think she would still need some years to fully grow into this role but she already performed it on a very high level. Only during a few moments I would wish for a bigger voice. Besides her musical portrayal, also optically she was a very elegant and beautiful Countess.
The new Figaro of the Salzburg festival might not be totally perfect but it is getting quite close. I can genuinely say that I had a most enjoyable evening with great music, great scenery and lovely acting skills.
Therefore I give 9 stars to the new Figaro.

Richard Wagner, Siegfried - Bayreuther Festspiele

Performance 5th August

My first visit to Bayreuth this year was for the notorious Castorf Ring. Much has been written about the scandalous production so I wanted to make my own opinion of it. After having seen it I have to admit that it is probably the most extraordinary crap I ever had to watch. There is barely any sense in the whole production and if Frank Castorf does not know what to do he just let's someone through around waste and other stuff. The production is not just banal and trivial but really annoying and disturbing. Even though the staging (Aleksandar Denić) and the costumes (Adriana Braga Peretzki) mostly looked fine they could not help the disastrous scenery that Castorf created.
At least musically it was a very satisfying performance. Kirill Petrenko and the Orchester der Bayreuther Festspiele gave a brilliant performance with great dynamic contrasts. I personally think that the special Bayreuth acoustics can be quite treacherous during very acentuated parts but Petrenko managed to create a very clean and acurate interpretation.
Vocally the singers mostly gave solid performances. Mirella Hagen was a lovely Waldvogel with a clear light soprano voice and great ease. Also her costume just looked wonderfully (probably the best thing about the whole production optically).
Andreas Conrad gave a very deceitful bickering Mime with a very characteristic and distinct timbre. I thought that his portrayal was very appropriate and convincing.
As Fafner Andreas Hörl gave a solid performance. Even though he did not have any support to make his voice sound more like a dragon he knew how to make an impression with his strong and profound bass voice.
Albert Dohmen's Alberich was clearly not an ideal casting for this role. He sounded very innaccurate and his diction was not really good. His whole performance sounded quite rough. Maybe it is a matter of taste but I did not really like it.
Nadine Weissmann convinced as Erda with a very warm and dark alto voice. She sounded really mysterious and gave a great impression during her short appearance. Her voice definitely suits the role perfectly with its very profound and calm timbre.
In the role of the Wanderer Wolfgang Koch seemed not to be the ideal casting choice. He definitely can sing the role without any issues but it does not feel totally appropriate. I think his voice is just not dramatic enough for this part. He very often seemed a little bit boring in his scenes. I really do like his voice because it is strong and has a beautiful warm timbre but I think this role is not really good for his voice.
Catherine Foster as Brünnhilde also has just a small appearance in the final scene but totally nailed it. In contrast to many other Brünnhildes Foster still has very lyric qualities and knows how to use them appropriately. But she also has enough power to stand against the huge orchestra without any problems. Also her high notes are very strong and not too short. Only her upper passagio seems to be her weak point because she sometimes seems to have intonation issues in this area. But except of a few flat notes her performance was really nice.
Stefan Vinke who is the new Siegfried in Bayreuth made a triumphal debut and showed that there still are people left who are able to sing this role appropriately. His voice is really strong and almost never seemed strained. With great ease and agility he already convinced me so much during the second act that I thought he could not maintain this level but he did. Until the very ending he managed to gave a magnificent performance. Bravo!
Overall my impression of Bayreuth's Siegfried was very devided. The production is just total nonsense but the singing was good. So my decision is to give Siegfried 8 stars (even though the production would deserve to get none).

Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio - Salzburger Festspiele, Großes Festspielehaus

Main rehearsal 2nd August & TV broadcast

I managed to see the main rehearsal of this year's anticipated Fidelio production and I was just marvelously happy to be there. My impressions were very divided. Musically it was a magnificent performance while the production itself was quite weak. Optically it looked really nice and interesting but director Claus Guth could not put everything together with sense. His ideas were exaggerated and helplessly overdramatized. Christian Schmidt's costumes and staging were very unemotional and sterile but also very elegant and pretty. Guth's idea to cut all spoken parts of the text and fill those parts with "sound design" (awful horror film sounds) was just not really creative and probably the greatest deficit of this production. I was really annoyed by the terribly boring "dialogue scenes" and thought it was quite a pity to ruin the otherwise fine production.
Musically it was just the opposite. Franz Welser-Möst and the Wiener Philharmoniker gave a magnificent performance with great accuracy and exemplary musical power. Especially the Leonoren-Ouvertüre during the second part was fantastic and the audience went crazy after it. Once again the Philharmonics impressed me with a new found harmony that I did not perceive those last years.
Also the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor gave a nice performance. Only during the prisoner's choir they seemed to have chosen a very strange phrasing (very accentuated and quite staccato). But besides that they sang marvelously. I just thought that it was a pity that they sang the finale from behind the stage (another horrible idea, Mr. Guth...).
Sebastian Holecek as Don Fernando could have had a stronger voice with a more noble sound but did a fine job anyway. His acting looked more solemnly than his vocal performance. Anyway he was very convincing during his short appearance.
Norbert Ernst as Jaquino also gave a solid performance during his few appearances. His Jaquino sounded less youthfull than normally but still very interesting with a quite clear light timbre.
As Marzelline Olga Bezsmertna gave a nice performance. Usually this role is casted with a lighter voice but I thought it was very nice to have a stronger lyric soprano for it. She seemed very comfortable with the role, only the high c in the 1st act trio seemed off tune. Besides that little deficit she gave an almost perfect performance. Bravo!
My personal highlight was Hans-Peter König as Rocco. What a profound bass voice he has! The voice sounds strong with a very dark but warm timbre. I enjoyed every minute of his singing because it was so tasteful and lovely to listen to. He filled the whole auditorium with his voice and performed really marvelously.
Tomasz Konieczny was a very powerful Don Pizzaro but seemed not totally comfortable in the higher parts of the role. I wish he would have hold those notes a little longer, but I think it was just out of his comfort zone. Nevertheless he gave a very dramatic and thrilling overall impression throughout the evening.
Another highlight of the performance was Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan. Kaufmann really is at the peak of his abilities. His first note on the word "Gott" came out of nowhere with an incredible crescendo. Also the rest of his actually short appearance was so unbelievably superior that it was a pleasure to listen. What a pity that he did not have more to sing.
And now the title hero, Adrianne Pieczonka as Fidelio / Leonore. Pieczonka is always a guarantor for a good performance. Nevertheless she seemed quite strained in this role. She certainly did a good job but I had the strange feeling that she did not feel totally comfortable. The positive thing was that especially during the lyric parts she convinced with her really beautiful voice in contrast to many other Leonore performers. But also during the great finale she totally convinced with a strong a securely led voice.
In the end I thought it was a very fine performance musically while the production mostly annoyed me. So I would give Salzburg's Fidelio just 8 stars, even if musically it would be a very good 9).

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Vincenzo Bellini, Norma - Salzburger Festspiele, Haus für Mozart

Premiere performance 31st July

As first opera of this year's festival I attended the premiere of Norma. Having seen the Munich Norma with Radvanovsky is probably the greatest contrast to the very unique Norma in Salzburg which values the original ideas of this work. Originally Norma was sung by Giuditta Pasta, who today would probably be called a dark mezzosoprano with an extended soprano range. So Bartoli's point is casting Norma with herself, a mezzosoprano, and Adalgisa with a soprano. The concept is totally different to most other productions but works just magnificently.
Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier created a production that was transferred into the Italian fashism and is something that Norma barely is in other productions: realistic. There is nothing strange about the plot in this production. It just shows a love story that takes a terrible end. The staging by Christian Fenouillat and the costumes by Agostino Cavalca also look marvelously and are just great to watch and enjoy. The great fire during the finale was so disturbing that I had goosebumps, literally!
Giovanni Antonini conducted the orchestra la scintilla very gently and establishes a piano sound throughout the piece except of some occasions where a powerful sound is needed. The melodies and the phrasing was really exemplary and so beautifully done that it was a really pleasureable experience to listen to it. Also the Coro della radiotelevisione Svizzera gave a brilliant performance once again. They sounded very well and harmonized wonderfully.
Reinaldo Macias and Liliana Nikiteanu sang the small roles of Flavio and Clothilde. I thought it was a pity that they did not have to sing more. Especially Nikiteanu's voice is too nice for such a small role.
Michele Pertusi sang a very strong and rough Oroveso. His voice has a very dramatic timbre with a very distinct sound.
As Pollione we heard John Osborn, who has a very light heroic tenor voice. He smashed out some strong high notes this evening and showed some really beautiful phrasing.
Rebeca Olvera sang a very light and girly Adalgisa with a very beautiful timbre. Her character suited the role better but I personally think that the part is just to low from time to time for a soprano. Nevertheless she did a good job and was lovely in her role.
The primadonna of the evening was Cecilia Bartoli as Norma. Of course her voice might not be the biggest one and her high notes do not have the power of a normal soprano, but still she portrayed the role so well that it was a success through and through. She does have the dramatic requirements that the role calls for and her phrasing is just not from this world. Most of the music is played in a cultivated piano and the focus lies on the melodies. Only some dramatic outbreaks are savored with fortissimi.
As I said the concept compared to other Norma's is totally different but not less interesting. I enjoyed the performance a lot and was totally disturbed afterwards. So it gets 9 stars from me.

Monday, 3 August 2015

Anton Bruckner, Messe in f-moll - Salzburger Festspiele, Großes Festspielhaus

Performance 25th July

After the very interesting Lazarus concert I also attended the first concert of the Wiener Philharmoniker. The conductor was canadian Yannick Nézet-Séguin who has such an elegant conducting style. The programme featured Bohuslav Martinů's Fresques de Piero della Francesca, a work with great colors and expressive sounds. The orchestra played so well that I was really surprised because I am not used to them playing that well. Those last year's they did not really convince with musical quality but this concert showed that they can be a first class orchestra, Do not ask me why they sound so differently suddenly, they just do.Anyway, the second part of the concert was Bruckner's final Mass in f minor. A work that is quite modern if you think of its creation in the early 70s of the 19th century. Nézet-Séguin managed to make the orchestra play so incredibly thrilling that the duration of a whole hour seemed like a few minutes. Also the choir (Chor des bayerischen Rundfunks) was exceptional with a great dynamic range from the most delicate pianissimi to huge ff-outbreaks of exceptional power. The choir is surely one of the best in Europe, no doubt.
The soprano solo was sung by Dorothea Röschmann, who still has such a beautiful warm voice with exemplary beauty of tone, but seemed to have gained power over the last few years. Her voice was huge and was heard over orchestra and choir without any problems.
Scottish mezzosoprano Karen Cargill seemed had a strong voice with a very dark lower register but seemed not to have that much power like Röschmann. Anyway she sang very beautifully and has really a very interesting voice with a very exciting timbre.
Christian Elsner showed that a Wagner proven tenor voice does not have to be totally broken after a few years and convinced with a strong but still very flexible voice. You can hear that he has a great Wagner voice but it does not sound strained or overused like many other Wagner tenors.
Franz-Josef Selig sang the bass solo and was fine as well. He was not the most powerful of the soloists but did a fine job anyway. I sometimes had the feeling that he lacked a little bit of volume in the lower parts, but maybe the thick orchestral disposition was just too much.
I really enjoyed the whole concert, especially the first piece and it showed the high qualitative niveau of the Salzburg festival. Therefore I award 8 stars.

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Festival talk with Christiane Libor

23rd July

This is the first of this year's festival talks. This time with German soprano Christiane Libor, who gave her successfull Salzburg Festival debut in Schubert's Lazarus last week. I met her the day before and had a lovely and very inspiring talk with her. Read here what it was all about:

Sie stehen ja sehr stark mit dem deutschen Repertoire, insbesondere Wagner und Strauss, in Verbindung. Was fasziniert sie an diesen beiden Komponisten?
Also ich glaub da muss man gar nicht soviel sagen. Es ist einfach diese Kombination von Wort und Ton in der Zusammenarbeit die einfach unglaublich ist. Besonders bei Strauss, manchmal stärker als bei Wagner für mich. Die Art und Weise wie Rhythmus komponiert wurde und wie mit Sprache umgegangen wird. Bei Wagner gibt’s am Anfang noch ein paar Ausrutscher, die sind ein bisschen schief gelaufen, aber auch sie sind reizvoll und man merkt einfach die Genialität in Musik und Sprache bei Wagner. Die ist so hochromantisch, dass man manchmal erst dreimal lesen muss bevor man es versteht.
Worin unterscheiden sich die beiden, worin sind sie sich ähnlich?
Naja eben die Sprache verbindet die beiden. Bei Wagner einfach seine sehr eigene Sprach und bei Strauss die Zusammenarbeit mit den Librettisten. Ich meine Hofmannsthal ist einfach unschlagbar!
Haben sie gewisse Lieblingsrollen? Und haben sie diese schon gesungen oder vielleicht noch nicht?
Also meine größte Traumrolle ist Tosca, die ich noch nicht gesungen habe.
Kommt die vielleicht?
Ich arbeite immer wieder dran, aber irgendwie bin ich noch nicht dazu gekommen. Dann gibt es natürlich schon ein paar sehr schöne Partien, die ich schon gesungen habe. Die Marschallin ist zum Beispiel eine meiner Lieblingspartien. Sehr gerne auch die Isolde, weil das sowohl intellektuell als auch körperlich eine richtige Herausforderung ist. Auch emotional so durch die Partie zu gehen ohne sich dabei zu verlieren, da muss ich schon sagen, das ist sehr fordernd.
Wie bereits erwähnt singen sie viel deutsches Repertoire. Wie sieht es mit anderen Sachen aus? Italienisches Repertoire z.B.?
Ja, sehr mager. Aber das liegt eben daran, dass ich deutsch bin und dass man der Meinung ist, dass eine deutsche Sängerin, die deutsches Repertoire singt, nicht italienisch singen kann. Ich habe mal eine Aida gesungen in Warschau, aber das war es dann auch schon.
In der Presse wird meist ihre ausgezeichnete Balance zwischen Durchschlagskraft und schön timbrierter Stimme gelobt. Wie würden sie selbst ihre Stimme beschreiben?
Das ist ja lustig. Also meine größte Stärke ist, würde ich sagen, die Emotionalität. Wenn ich meine Stimme beschreiben würde, würde ich sagen, dass ich eine lyrische Stimme habe, mit der Fähigkeit, sie durch Technik über den Frequenzbereich sehr laut zu machen. So kannich von piano bis forte alles anbieten. Meine Stimme ist mit der Zeit gewachsen. Ich würde meine Stimme nicht einmal als große Stimme bezeichnen, aber dafür als sehr tragfähige Stimme.
Angenommen sie studieren eine neue Rolle ein. Wie gehen sie vor und worauf liegt ihr Fokus besonders?
Text zuerst. Text im Rhythmus sprechen und dann kommen die Töne ja eigentlich fast von alleine.
Sie unterrichten ja auch an der Hochschule für Musik in Karlsruhe. Wie sehen sie die Anforderungen an junge Sänger heutzutage?
Wahnsinn, ja. Also es ist insofern schwieriger, weil alle erwarten, dass man mit 23 schon fertig ist und mit 26 am besten schon Isolde singt, etwas übertrieben .Aber es ist die Tendenz jünger, schöner, schneller, schlanker, weiter. Und so eine normale Entwicklung wie früher bei einem Sänger ist kaum mehr möglich. Das sehe ich als Pädagogin mit wachsenden Bedenken. Gesund singen bis ins hohe Alter gibt es eigentlich nicht mehr. Man wünscht es sich, aber es funktioniert nicht, weil die Sänger nicht die Möglichkeit haben sich in Ruhe zu entwickeln. Ganz extreme Beispiele sind die dramatischen Stimmen und die tiefen Männerstimmen. Bassstimmen z.B. sind eigentlich erst mit knapp über 40 auf ihrem Höhepunkt, aber da sind die meisten schon am Ende. Weil sie eben mit 32 schon die großen Rollen singen mussten. Das geht natürlich, aber über 40 macht die Stimme dann einen Schlag und dann tauchen Intonations- & Farbprobleme auf und die Variabilität geht einfach verloren. Fängt man aber erst mit 45 an dieses Repertoire zu singen ist man zu alt und wird nicht mehr engagiert. Und das ist bei dramatischen Sopranen genau so, auch schon bei den jugendlichen Stimmen. Die sollten frühestens mit 38 die großen Partien singen, aber da sind sie dann ja schon viel zu alt. Das ist ganz ungesund und ich sage den jungen Sängern immer, dass sie auf sich vertrauen sollen, an sich arbeiten sollen und ruhig bleiben sollen. Das zahlt sich aus, dann kommt  man nicht an ihnen vorbei. Letztendlich zählt die Qualität.
Morgen geben sie ihr Debut bei den Salzburger Festspielen in Schuberts Lazarus. Wie gefällt es ihnen hier in Salzburg bis jetzt?
Ich hab ja noch nicht viel gesehen. Ich war schon 1999 zum Mozartwettbewerb hier, da war ich so konzentriert, dass ich nichts mitgekriegt habe. Heute ist es auch wieder so, frühestens morgen Mittag habe ich etwas freie Zeit, dann könnten sie mich nochmal fragen.
Lazarus ist ja ein Fragment und endet mitten in einer ihrer Szenen. Was macht den Reiz dieses Werkes aus?
Ich glaube es ist die Absonderlichkeit dieses Stückes. Da gibt es so wahnsinnig viele Farben und Ingo Metzmacher arbeitet das auch wirklich gut heraus. Es ist fast wie eine kleine Oper im Konzertformat.
Nach Salzburg stehen in der nächsten Saison Rosalinde in Dresden, Sieglinde, Ada, sowie ihr Debut als Götterdämmerungs-Brünnhilde in Leipzig auf dem Programm. Was bringt die Zukunft noch? Vielleicht Bayreuth?
Naja Bayreuth ist ein eigenes Pflaster. Ich hab schon zwei Mal versucht dort Fuß zu fassen und das hat nicht wirklich funktioniert. Ich hab ja vor zwei Jahren dort im Liebesverbot gesungen, das war ganz lustig. Aber sie haben da natürlich ihre ganz eigenen Vorstellungen und natürlich fragt Bayreuth und nicht ich frage Bayreuth. Mein Hauptmerk nächstes Jahr ist wirklich die Brünnhilde, da lass ich mir vorher wirklich ordentlich Zeit. Dann kommt im Jahr drauf eine Isolde und nochmal Brünnhilde. Und dann denke ich darüber nach eine Kundry zu machen. Und die Walküren-Brünnhilde kommt auch noch.
Kommt die Siegfried-Brünnhilde noch einmal?
Ich wurde zwar angefragt, aber da kann ich leider nicht.
Das Magazin Opernglas berichtete in der Mai-Ausgabe, sie würden 2017 in München die Isolde übernehmen. Ist da was dran?
Jaja, das stimmt.
Als Nachfolge für Waltraud Meier.
Ach ist das so?
Ja, die war ja quasi die Haus-Isolde der letzten Jahre. Wird das eine Neuinszenierung sein?
Nein, nein, das wird dieselbe sein.
Und zuletzt: Ihre Website ist gerade im Aufbau, wann wird sie fertiggestellt sein?
Wahrscheinlich nie (lacht). Also ich muss gestehen, ich bin etwas antiquiert. Ich tue mich einfach schwer mit solchen Sachen. Ich habe schon oft daran gedacht sie endlich zu fertigzustellen, aber ich schaffe es einfach nicht. Außerdem fehlt mir die Lust andauernd zu schreiben wo ich überall bin und so, muss ich ehrlich sagen. Aber man findet eh alles im Internet, zumindest was Oper angeht. Und was Konzerte angeht, so mache ich im Herbst zum Beispiel Walküre 1. Akt konzertant mit Marc Minkowski in Frankfurt.

Gut, dann vielen Dank für das Interview und viel Erfolg bei der morgigen Vorstellung.