Sunday, 19 October 2014

Richard Strauss, Die Schweigsame Frau - Bayerische Staatsoper München

Performance 11th October

My first opera of the new season was Strauss' and Stefan Zweig's first collaboration: Die Schweigsame Frau. An actually quite rarely performed piece which has lovely parts and very high requirements for both, singers and instrumentalists. The production of Barry Kosky (staging and costumes: Esther Bialas) does not feature a lot of stuff on stage except of the very important things. You never had the feeling that there are too many things on the stage and the whole production really supported the plot in a way you would wish to see more often.
The orchestra of the opera house was leaded by Pedro Halffter who conducted a very clear and clean score with many different details.
As the three men of Henry's company, Farfallo, Vanuzzi and Morbio: Tareq Nazmi, Christoph Stephinger and Matthias Henneberg. All three had very fine voices with great power and clear diction. Especially Henneberg was a very pleasing character due to the fact that he jumped in for another singer although his schedule in Dresden (where he is rehearsing for two productions at the moment) is very tight. I think for this reason he had a big bonus compared to the other singers. As the two ladies from the company, Isotta and Carlotta, we heard Elsa Benoit and Tara Erraught who was the subject of this year's Glyndebourne scandal. Benoit has a fine coloratura soprano which sometimes sound quite shrill in the higher register. Nevertheless her performance in that little role was good anyway. However Erraught really impressed me a lot. Her voice has a really beautiful timbre and great power. She filled the auditorium with her voice so easily that it was very delightful to listen to her. And to say something about her physique: she really looked lovely in her victorian dress and the curly hair. Of course the costume was totally overdone, but that was intented like that. One can just hope that she will stay a long time in the ensemble so that we can hear more of her lovely voice.
Another nice singer was Okka von der Damerau as the house maid. Damerau, who is everybody's darling here in Munich, has a nice alto voice with a very velvet-like dark timbre. She also convinced with a great sense of humor and comedic playing.
Sir Morosus was sung by Franz Hawlata who also gave a good performance. Although his voice does not have the same power as other great basses of our time he gave a very convincing and nice portrayal of the poor old guy. His impersonation of the old sensitive and stubborn captain is really great and the role fits him quite well.
Now to the young pair. Daniel Behle sang the role of Henry Morosus and also did a fine job. I already heard him at the easter festival Salzburg as Arabella's Matteo where I really liked him a lot. This time I didn't like him that much. He was singing good but some higher passages sounded a little bit strained and uncomfortable. He surely did a fine job, but could have done better. Nevertheless I am sure that Behle is maybe the best tenor of the younger generation at the moment. Let's see how he'll do in the future.
The real star of the evening was Brenda Rae as Aminta alias the silent woman a.k.a. Timidia. The very difficult coloratura role is very demanding and contains very dramatic and very lyrical requirements. The finale of the second act calls for beautiful singing with long phrases in very high registers and still the main part of the act is very dramatic with singing like a fury. Nevertheless she performed a great Aminta and did not disappoint in any way. Her high notes were very clear, delicate and still powerful. Also her acting was very nice and helped her to stand up to the original Aminta of the production, Diana Damrau.
Finally it was a lovely evening with many laughter, nice moments and great singing. I give the performane 7 stars.
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