Thursday, 27 July 2017

Carl Maria von Weber, Oberon - Bayerische Staatsoper, Prinzregententheater

Performance 24th July

The finale premiere of this season in Munich is a real rarity that rarely finds its way into the repertoire. Weber's Oberon is not as popular as his Freischütz which might be because of its rather dull story and the unelegant libretto. The plot seems like a strange mix of Mozart's Entführung, his Zauberflöte and other influences. Operas like this can barely be approached in a serious way without becoming unbareably cheesy. However, the team around Nikolaus Habjahn created a wonderful production with an impressive level of entertainment. The point of the production was to create a frame story and to simply not take the story serious at all. By exaggerations the plot became highly ironic and fit perfectly into the created frame story of an experiment. I have to admit that I do not know when I had so much fun at an opera the last time. There were so many funny moments and the audience was genuinely entertained by the several interesting ideas. I also thought the the costumes (Denise Heschl) and the stage (Jakob Brossmann) looked very elegant and gave a lovely fairytale-like impression. Especially the many little panels that came from all around the stage to support the plot. Another highly interesting detail was the use of those puppets that were played by the three Pucks. It was really impressive how well the actors were able to deliver different characters with those puppets.
The musical part of the evening was under the control of Ivor Bolton who gave a solid performance. I thought that the balance in the score could have been better most of the time and the light classiness of Weber's music was missing too. However, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester played well with a few little inaccuracies. Especially the natural horns were rather problematic, but alltogether the performance was fine on a good level. I especially want to mention the Extrachor der Bayerischen Staatsoper which sang wonderfully during the choir scenes.
Of the soloists I want to mention the three Pucks (Manuela Linshalm, Daniel Frantisek Kamen, Sebastian Mock) because they were responsible for many funny moments and helped to keep the ecxitement on a high level throughout the performance.
Anna El-Kashem had a very short but beautiful scene as Meermädchen. She sang the beautiful scene with a lovely and genuinely beautiful soprano voice that is definitely worth more than such a small appearance. Alyona Abramowa showed her dark warm mezzo voice, but definitely needs to work on her diction which tended to be rather problematic (especially during the few dialogues she had to deliver).
Julian Prégardien was a wonderful Oberon with a lovely youthful and elegant tenor voice. His noble timbre suited the role perfectly well and only his acting could have been a bit more convincing alltogether.
As Fatime we heard Rachael Wilson with her slender focused mezzo soprano. She gave a beautiful portrayal of the role with passion and lighthearted acting skills. I especially liked her aria in the final act, the following duet with Scherasmin and the Terzett with both guys where Wilson showed her vocal skills exceptionally well.
Johannes Kammler as Scherasmin also was a performance to remember. His light baritone voice suited the character very well and he sang the role with elegance and charm. But not only musically he knew how to catch the audience, also his acting skills were very good and he gave a wonderful performance.
Brenden Gunnell as Hüon von Bordeaux also did a good job even though he sometimes seemed a bit uncomfortable with the highly demanding part. The many runs and the rather high tessitura pushed him to his limits, but alltogether he gave a good performance.
Anette Dasch as Rezia seemed to have the same problem. While having a very beautiful strong and dark soprano voice, her top always gave a rather pushed impression. Surely the part calls for a more flexible kind of voice, but Dasch used her striking stage presence to make up for vocal deficits. In the end she probably gave the best overall impression with her marvelous diva-like behaviour (which was part of the production, obviously).
As mentioned before, I really had a great time and much fun during the performance. Certainly the piece and the production are not perfect, but it is a wonderful example of good entertainment. Therefor I give 9 stars to the absolutely hilarious Oberon in Munich.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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