Monday, 29 December 2014

Richard Strauss, Ariadne auf Naxos - Oper Stuttgart

Performance 18th December

Some days ago I went to Stuttgart to see the production of Strauss' and Hofmannsthal's second collaboration: Ariadne auf Naxos. The production itself was just total nonsense, but the singing was really great. Directors Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito decided to reverse the order of the opera and play the opera (2nd act) first and afterwards the Vorspiel (1st act). Their  reason was Hofmannsthal's attribute of the work: Oper in einem Aufzuge nebst einem Vorspiel. They thought that NEBST would not indicate that the Vorspiel has to be performed first. Even though the plot DEFINITELY displays the preperations of the second act!!! I never heard such nonsense! What a pity, because the staging and the costumes (Anna Viebrock) were not that bad and locked quite lovely from time to time.
At least the musical part was quite good . Georg Fritzsch conducted the work very clear with a great dynamic bandwidth from very intimate to dramatic outbursts (even with the small chamber orchestra). He pointed out many lovely details from the score and the orchestra (Staatsorchester Stuttgart) did a good job following his instructions.
And now the singers of the Vorspiel: the music teacher was sung by Michael Ebbecke, who had a powerful voice with a very profound depth. Only his diction could have been a little bit better for making his performance perfect.
The speaking role of the Haushofmeister was performed by André Jung. In my opinion he acted a little bit boring and it seemed as he would just read down his words. I would have expected more acting.
Sophie Marilley sang the composer and did a great job in that role. Her timbre reminded me several times of Tatiana Troyanos, even though Marilley's voice might not be as big as Troyanos'. Still she acted thrillingly and played the young impulsive boy very convincingly.
As Tanzmeister we heard Daniel Kluge who has a lovely strong tenor voice with a very heroic but still quite youthful timbre. I really enjoyed his singing and think he could do greatly in bigger roles.
The smaller roles (Lakai, Offizier, Perückenmacher) were performed by members of the opera studio. Eric Ander, Thomas Elwin and Dominic Große did a good job and proved their qualities.
Now the singers of the opera: As men's quartet Harlekin, Scaramuccio, Truffaldin and Brighella we heard André Morsch, Heinz Göhring, Roland Bracht and Torsten Hofmann. All four of them did a good job and sounded fine together.
The nymphs also sounded quite good together. Najade was sung by Lauryna Bendziunaite who has a very powerful voice that is able to sing in the high register without any problems. Unfortunately she sounded a little bit to powerful from time to time for this has to be sung more delicate and the phrasing must be more fluid (especially in their first scene). If she had sung a little bit subtly it would have been nearly perfect. Dryade was sung by Stine Marie Fischer who has a very strong profound mezzo soprano and sang very tastefully. Her voice was very agile and gave a good foundation for the nymph scenes because vocally she seemed to be the "leader". Josephin Feiler sang the lovely role of Echo and also did a good job with it. She sang her dreamy lines really lovely and delicate without being covered.
Stefan Vinke performed the roles of Bacchus and the tenor. He has a quite strong tenor voice that sometimes seems to take some time to take off. His strength were the parts in the middle register. In the higher register he seemed quite strained sometimes and some of the higher notes did not come easily. But of course this role is a challenge for any tenor with its enormously high tessitura. Moreover he seemed more relaxed in the Vorspiel, maybe because the vocals there lie a little bit lower than in the opera.
Julia Bauer sang the breakneck role of Zerbinetta. She managed the enormous range quite well and did not have any problems with the several high notes beyond c6. Her coloraturas were exemplary and were really fluid. Her phrasing also was very nice and showed great musical taste. The only deficit was that she had some issues with being covered by the orchestra. Her soprano is very light and clear like a bell but her stamina seems to have some potential for improvement. If she manages to work on that she might be a promising singer.
The title role Ariadne and the role of the primadonna were performed by my favorite soprano, Christiane Libor. As I expected she did great in this role. She has a great lower register with a very beautiful timbre (unlike many other Ariadnes) and no problems at all with the high register up to the c6 in "Es gibt ein Reich". The enormous beauty of her voice and the sheer power of her stamina always manage to impress me anew. She will debut at the Salzburg Festival next year and hopefully will come more often afterwards.
The vocal performance of this evening's singers was great but because of the crappy production I only award 8 stars.

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