Monday, 30 June 2014

Richard Wagner, Die Feen - Oper Leipzig

Performance 27th June

Last weekend I undertook another trip to Leipzig to see two beautiful operas in one of the best opera houses in Europe. Yes, I would definitely say that the Oper Leipzig is on the way to be an opera house of international ranking! But more of that later...
The performance of Wagner's early opera Die Feen was a revival of the last season when it was played for Wagner's 200th anniversary. The production by the team Barbe & Doucet (production: Renaud Doucet, set & costumes: André Barbe) is very colorful (almost too much) and plays with the interesting idea of transferring the plot in another dimension. A family father hears the oper Die Feen in the radio (LIVE from the opera Leipzig) and while he's sitting there and listening, he becomes a part of the plot as the main protagonist Arindal. The whole idea might not be everyone's sake but is quite funny and well elaborated. This interpretation of the work helps to overcome the opera's dramatic weaknesses.
Musically Die Feen is influenced by the great early works of German opera like Der Freischütz, Fidelio and so on. One can clearly hear the influences of Weber, Beethoven and Marschner although Wagner's own style is already perceivable.
Matthias Foremny conducts the famous Gewandhausorchester with great elan and an interpretation that shows all those influences with much elegance and musical intelligence. The orchestra plays very well with only minor impurities and accompanies the singers very beautifully.
The two fairies Zemina and Farzana, who try to get Ada back to fairy land, were sung by Magdalena Hinterdobler and Jean Broekhuizen. Both sang very nicely and did a marvellous performance together. Eun Yee You and Paula Rummel interpreted Lora (Arindal's sister) and Drolla (Lora's maid). While Paula Rummel was a lovely comedic Drolla with strong voice, Eun Yee You had serious problems with the role of Lora which was way to heavy for the quite light soprano voice. She lacked the needed stamina and was unfortunately covered very easily by the orchestra.
Mathias Hausmann, Milcho Borovinov and Ferdinand von Bothmer did a good job as Morald, Gernot and Gunther (Arindal's followers). All three of them were very convincing and showed no problems with their roles.
But now to the main protagonists: As Arindal the young danish tenor David Danholt got new into the production and filled the role with a very pleasing beautiful tenor voice with a youthful but dramatic timbre. His voice could have been a little more powerful but his performance was very good anyway. A small deficit was his one dimensional acting which could be more believable.
Once again the big highlight of the evening was Christiane Libor as Ada. Her voice suits the vocal requirements perfectly and delivers the dramatic indications of the later Wagner as well as the agility of the Italian influences with all the coloraturas, runs and scales. From her cavatina during the first act until the dramatic climax of the second act her voice mixes dramatic power with sheer beauty of the tone. Her incredible technique enables her to perform the most delicate pianos as well as dramatic outbreaks with enormous power.
I am very happy that I took the chance to hear this final performance in Leipzig and give the performance 8 out of 10 stars.

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