Monday, 27 October 2014

Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari, Die Vier Grobiane (I quattro rusteghi) - Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Prinzregententheater

Performance 26th October

On sunday I had the last encounter of "rarity week" in the beautiful Prinzregententheater in Munich: Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari's Die vier Grobiane. Wolf-Ferrari is a name that is not really known by many people except some opera lovers with eyes for rarities. Unfortunately his works - which where quite successful at their premieres - are rarely performed and mostly only in concert versions. That really is a great mistake because yesterday I was blown away by this very insteresting and rousing music. Wolf-Ferrari is best known for reviving the opera buffa into a great renaissance and this opera is a wonderful example for this. His musical language is a mix of lovely parlando parts and italian melodic ability. Sometimes it seems like a very Italian Strauss opera.
A part that I really want to point out is the impressive finale of the second act. During the climax the singers have to sing their notes (for Marina and Felice high c's) for 17 measures (new breaths are allowed, but still!!) !!!!! However I really hope that Wolf-Ferrari will be seen in our theaters more often, because it would be a pity to leave those great works to the rarity section.
The man who we can thank for this great evening is the great conductor Ulf Schirmer, who is the musical director of the Münchner Rundfunkorchester. He conducted very tasteful with lots of interesting details and courage for dynamic outbreaks. Schirmer always gives me the impression that nothing could baffle him. The orchestra played also very well and translated everything Schirmer wanted to great music and thrilling rhythms.
Another specialty of Schirmer is a great sense for good voices, which he showed by the casting.
Uwe Eikötter sang Conte Riccardo (the admirer of Felice) with a strong tenor voice that immediately gave me the impression of a wagner voice (which was true). He has the typical tenor voice for roles like Mime, Froh or Loge. It totally fitted the noble role of the Conte with his heroic sound.
Felice's husband, Cancian, was performed by Friedemann Röhlig, who has a profound bass voice with a very warm timbre. He does not really have much to sing but the few lines he sang were fine and he showed great comedic talent.
Felice herself was sung by Christine Buffle, who has a quite interesting voice. It is strong and powerful throughout the registers but has a thin timbre in the upper register which gives the impression that she sings very "narrow". Nevertheless she sang very nicely although this little deficit was a bit annoying from time to time.
Peter Schöne sang the role of Simon with a beautiful baritone voice which could be a little bit more powerful. The interesting thing was, that his appearance was very noble and really seemed very aristocratic and superior.
His wife, Marina, was sung by Susanne Bernhard. Her soprano voice is very strong and has a warm velvet-like timbre which would fit perfectly with lyric dramatic roles of the german repertory. She played this character really lovely with great acting and charming personage.
Annette Mühlhans only had a short appearance as Marina's maid. She seemed to have a lovely voice, but unfortunately she did not really have much to sing.
Lunardo was sung by Jürgen Linn, who was one of this evening's favorites. His baritone voice is very agile and he definitely knows how to create a character through the voice. Weather he plays the grim husband or the desperate father he always found the right tone.
His wife, Margarita, was performed by mezzosoprano Zoryana Kushpler. She also has a very powerful voice with a warm timbre and a strong lower register. When she sang her first lines I was thinking that she could be a great Fricka, Amneris or Venus.
Victor van Halem gave Maurizio, the groom's father, his voice. His bass might not be the most powerful but it delivers superiority, nobility and solemnity. I'm sure he would be a wonderful Baron Ochs with his very wooden timbre.
His son, Filipeto, was portrayed by tenor Markus Francke. He displayed the youthful enthusiasm appropriately and also used his voice very expertly to deliver the right aspects of his character.
His future wife, Lucieta (Lunardo's daughter), was sung by Christina Landshamer who has a very beautiful light lyric soprano voice. Her silver-like timbre meets great agility and very convincing acting which gives a wonderful total impression. Her parlando singing is really great and shows that they are way more interesting than "normal" recitatives.
In the end I can say that it was an enormous pleasure to hear this wonderful work and I hope I will have the possibility to see something from Wolf-Ferrari soon again. The performance gets 8 stars.

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