Sunday, 29 March 2015

Pietro Mascagni & Ruggero Leoncavallo, Cavalleria rusticana & Pagliacci - Salzburger Osterfestspiele

Premiere Performance 28th March

With great pleasure I experienced the premiere performance of this year’s Salzburg Easter Festival with the Verismo twin operas Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci. The production of Philipp Stölzl (also responsible for the staging) was extraordinary and was probably the best production I saw for a while. The whole staging and the costumes (Ursula Kudrna) matched perfectly and gave a magnificent overall impression. Also the contrast between the two operas (Cavalleria in black and white, Pagliacci in many different colors) was really impressive and had a great impact. Some close up projections also showed the singers closely and made their emotional impressions even stronger.
But not just the production, also the musical part was extraorindinary! Christian Thielemann showed that he is able to achieve amazing performances not just in the German repertory. He showed every single shade of expressivity and the whole contrast between intimate moments and orchestral outbursts was really intense. The Staatskapelle Dresden did not have any problems to follow his instructions and showed with their incredible performance once more that they are one of the best orchestras right now. The choirs (Sächsicher Staatsopernchor Dresden, Bachchor Salzburg and Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor) made a great impact as well. The choral scenes in both operas were really great and intense!
The cast of singer’s also gave an impression of what high level of quality is provided by the Festival. Every single role, small or big, was casted really well which also helped to make the whole performance so wonderful. First the cast of Cavalleria:
Stefania Toczyska gave a very strict and vocally powerful Lucia. She might not have that much to sing in Cavalleria but she still left a fine impression with her performance and sang the role very appropriately.
As Lola Annalisa Stroppa made Turiddu’s decision to have an affair understandable with her beautiful physique and her strong voice which has a very warm and erotic timbre. She definitely knew how to use her voice to state that she is the one Turiddu is in love with.
The wonderful Ambrogio Maestri portrayed Lola’s actual husband Alfio and showed that he is not just good for comedy. His very powerful voice was never covered by the orchestra and sounded fine in every part of his range.
One of my personal highlights was the incredibly powerful voice of Liudmyla Monastyrska who sang Santuzza. Her stamina is genuinely marvelous and throughout her full range she delivers the vocal power of a full choir. Still she is able to perform the delicate moments of her part tastefully and with great ease. One can just look forward to her „Libera me“ in the concert of next tuesday!!
And now tot he roles of Pagliacci:
In the role of Beppe we heard young tenor Tansel Akzeybek who I am looking forward to see in Bayreuth’s new Tristan this summer (as young sailsman and shepherd). He has a very gentle lyric voice and sings with great ease, especially in his upper register. His song during the theatre performance in the opera was really lovely to listen to.
As the opera’s antagonist, Tonio, Dimitri Platanias gave a fine performance with a really powerfull baritone voice of quite heroic and threatening timbre. He played the unpleasent wretch genuinely marvelously and totally earned the admiration of the audience after his performance.
Alessio Arduini sang the young lover Silvio and portrayed it really appropriately, both vocally and physically. His young and strong baritone has a very beautiful timbre and he sings his lines really tastefully and very lyrically. After his performance in last summer’s Don Giovanni he showed again that he is a name to remember fort he future.
The role of Nedda was sung by Italian soprano Maria Agresta with her beautiful voice which has both power and beauty of tone. Her voice combines nice stamina with a lovely lyric timbre and the ability to sing the most delicate pianissimi! Also her acting was very impressive and helped her to shine in this role.
But clearly, the highlight of the evening was the male lead of both operas: Jonas Kaufmann. His powerful tenor voice with ist unique dark timbre fits perfectly into this kind of repertory. He sang both roles very expressively and showed enormous acting potential. He was able to deliver a wide contrast of vocal colors and dominated the whole evening. He totally made clear that he definitely is one of the greatest male voices right now.
My overall impression was totally positive and I have to say that I have not been that excited about a production for a long time so I would give the performance 9 stars.

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