Friday, 15 August 2014

Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier - Salzburger Festspiele

Performance 11th August

I was waiting very long for this and on the 11th of August it was time. I got to see the new production of Der Rosenkavalier at the Salzburg Festival. This new production of Harry Kupfer (stage: Hans Schavernoch, costumes: Yan Tax) moves the plot into the last decades of the K&K monarchy with big impressive monumental pictures and elegant props. I really liked the beautiful staging and the noble costumes a lot. This production is worth to stand in a row with the old productions of the festival.
Franz Welser-Möst conducted the Wiener Philharmoniker very gently but not as good as I expected. The orchestra did not play as qualitative as one would expect from an ensemble like this(well, big names are not everything obviously). The standard was still quite high but in fact the orchestra and the conducting were a little bit disappointing.
Nevertheless the singers of the performance sang on a very high standard with a few exceptions. Silvana Dussmann for example sang Marianne Leitmetzerin and showed her very beautiful strong soprano voice. As far as I know she sings roles like Kaiserin in Frau ohne Schatten and other big Strauss heroines, so she was a little overqualified for such a small role, but anyway she sang it very well.
Wiebke Lehmkuhl sang Annina and showed her very warm velvet-like mezzo soprano which sounded very pleasingly. She gave this role a totally new dimension and showed a more sympathetic facet of this character. Valzacchi was sung by Rudolf Schasching who also gave a good performance although he had more like an acting role due to the few lines of singing he had to do.
Tobias Kehrer as Polizeikommisar sang, according to the role, very intimidating and imperious. Stefan Pop sang a very beautiful but not really strong Italian singer and Salzburg favorite Franz Supper performed a very dignified Haushofmeister (Feldmarschallin).
Adrian Eröd performed the role of Faninal which suits his voice very well. He has a very noble and elegant voice which is capable of showing the elegance and also the weakness of this character very properly. Eröd's acting supports this impression and rounds the overall impression off.
Günther Groissböck was one of the highlights of the performance with his debut as Baron von Ochs. At the beginning of the performance festival director Alexander Pereira came out to say that Groissböck is a little bit indisposed due to a cold but still sings the role (thank god). Even without the cold his performance would have been impressive but singing this difficult role like he did with this indisposition was just incredible. Even though he might not be as powerful as other singers in the deep register he managed to be heard over the orchestras (even during the very profound parts of this role). His acting was just as qualitative as his singing and made him the perfect singer for this role. Finally an Ochs who is not shown as an old pervert but as a young arrogant, self-confident, vain and surely dangerous middle-aged Don Juan (as Strauss and Hofmannsthal imagined him). After this high-quality performance Groissböck will surely be the main Ochs for the next few decades.
The role of Sophie was sung by Mojca Erdmann, who physically seems to be the perfect singer for this role. Vocally, although she sang really beautifully, her voice had some issues with the size of the Festspielhaus. She had some troubles to be heard over the orchestra, especially during the deeper parts of this role. Nevertheless during the important key moments she was still satisfying and did not disappoint.
Sophie Koch, as always, gave a great performance as Octavian and especially the Mariandl parts were just incredibly lovely and funny. She is one of the main Octavians of our time and she never fails to satisfy in that role. Even though she sings it very often she does not make the impression of boring practice.
The second big highlight was Krassimira Stoyanova's debut as Feldmarschallin. I knew she would not disappoint in this role but after getting to see her I was just really impressed. She sang the role with such finesse, elegance, grace and beauty that she does not have to fear the comparisons with names like Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Christa Ludwig or Renee Fleming. Her silver-velvet-like voice and the magnificent pianos she is able to sing make her the perfect singer for this role. Even her viennese accent sounded very authentic. She was able to maintain the ideal balance between powerful voice and delicate phrasing.
The Salzburg Rosenkavalier is maybe the best new production in years and features two new role models for the Marschallin and the Baron Ochs.
The performance gets well-deserved 9 stars.

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