Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Richard Strauss, Orchesterkonzert IV - Richard Strauss Festival

19th June

Yesterday the last performance of the Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen took place and included an amazing cast. The programm featured Strauss' Don Juan, the famous duet of Arabella and Zdenka from Arabella, the final Aria of the composer from Ariadne auf Naxos, Salome's dance and finally some scenes from Der Rosenkavalier.
The Bamberger Symphoniker, conducted by Karl-Heinz Steffens, gave an intensive performance with only a few small inaccuracies (barely identifiable for the normal audience) that didn't bother the overall impression. Something that bothered me personally more was the tempi that seemed a little bit fast (although it was not a big problem).
The concert was hosted by the festival's director, the legendary Brigitte Fassbaender, who did the whole presentation with in rhyme (which was incredibly entertaining and hilarious). The performers included Christiane Libor, Anja-Nina Bahrmann, Michelle Breedt, Carole Wilson and Franz Hawlata.
The roles of Zdenka and Sophie were performed by Anja Nina Bahrmann who's voice is a very beautiful instrument with considerable strength. She can be heard over the orchestra throughout every register and has a very clear upper register while the deeper registers possess a darker timbre. One might wish her voice to sound more pure and angelic but she did a good job anyway.
Michelle Breedt sang the composer before she performed an exceptional Octavian. Interestingly she wasn't that convincing as composer. Her voice is very expressive and possesses a very clear upper register for a mezzo. Her Octavian was clearly one of the highlights of this evening. Not just because of her amazing musical interpretation but also due to her incredible acting skills that were really stunning. Every single movement in her gesturing and her facial expressions seemed enormously authentic and convincing.
Also Carole Wilson showed comedic talent as Rosenkavalier's Annina, which she performed very well. Unfortunately her appearance was only very short so she didn't really have the chance to give a stronger impression.
The only male performer of the evening, Franz Hawlata, showed why all big opera houses book him as Ochs with an impeccable rendition of the second act finale of the Rosenkavalier. His acting and his viennese dialect are very convincing and match with his solid bass voice.
The highlight of the evening was without doubt the soprano Christiane Libor who sang Arabella and the Marschallin. Her stamina is enormously impressing and still her voice sounds fresh andis capable of singing lyric phrases with outstanding beauty of the tone. Also her diction is exemplary which goes with hand in hand with her amazing dramatic expression. Her Arabella was dreamy and longing, her Marschallin melancholic and graceful. Without any doubt, Ms. Libor is one of the best singers of the German repertory at the moment. Her incredibly strong and beautiful voice can even compete with singers of the past like Regine Crespin, Gundula Janowitz or even Jessye Norman.
So finally the concert is surely one of my highlights so far due to the perfect vocal performance and the exciting programme. The Strauss Festival Garmisch-Partenkirchen satisfies with quality, intelligent programme and the spirit of Strauss' adopted home.
The concert receives 9 stars out of 10.

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