Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Richard Strauss, Arabella - Bayerische Staatsoper, Münchner Opernfestspiele (Nationaltheater)

Premiere performance 6th July

After my very ambivalent experience of last week with Pelléas I had the chance to see a wonderful rendition of Arabella yesterday at the premiere performance of the Bavarian state opera in Munich. The production of Andreas Dresen is a marvelous example of great directing with a wonderful minimalistic staging by Mathias Fischer-Dieskau and lovely costumes by Sabine Greunig. The staging had a crossing double staircase in the center and was quite dark and without many colors. The costumes on the other hand were sometimes very colorfull and so there was a wonderful contrasts between staging and costumes. This contrast had a marvelous effect and looked just stunning. Depending on the current act they turned around the stage and so you had a different view during every act.
But also musically it was just a pleasure to be there. Philippe Jordan conducted the Bayerisches Staatsorchester very gently with exemplary delicacy and sense for the "Viennese sound". The orchestra supported the singers magnificently and did a wonderful job. Especially during the famous duets of the first and second act the orchestra accompanied the singers so delicately that is was a great pleasure to listen.
The soloists were all singing on a very high level from the main protagonists to the smaller supporting roles. Heike Grötzinger managed to give a lovely short performance as Kartenaufschlägerin. Also lovely in their short appearances: Dean Power, Andrea Borghini and Steven Humes as the three counts. All three of them did a fine job as the longing lovers of Arabella.
Eir Inderhaug gave a very agile and secure Fiakermilli with a very light and crystal clear soprano voice. She managed her incredibly difficult part really well and I was quite suprised that they obviously cut out the lovely finale of the second act.
Joseph Kaiser sang a very agitated and impetuous Matteo and portrayed the role very convincing. Especially his agony and despair were really great and he sang his part very well.
As Graf Waldner we had the pleasure to hear Kurt Rydl who gave a wonderful real viennese Waldner with charming acting skills and a profound bass voice. Even if it might not be as mighty as it has been in the past he still is a very good and versatile singer.
Same is valid for Doris Soffel who sang his wife Adelaide. She still has the power and stamina to fill the auditorium. Her voice might sound quite shrill and expressive from time to time but it suited her hysteric role perfectly. Thinking about her age it is incredibly that her voice still has such a level of quality.
A highlight of the evening was Hanna-Elisabeth Müller in the role of Zdenka. Her clear and powerful light soprano suited the role very well. She portrayed the distress of her role wonderfully and I was surprised how well she developed in this role (I already saw her debut in Salzburg last year). It was simply beautiful how well her voice fitted together with Harteros' voice in the lovely duet in the first act. Simply beautiful.
Thomas J. Mayer gave an impressive Mandryka with a strong and noble baritone voice. In addition to his great vocal abilities he showed some genuinely great acting skills. He showed so many details of his character that his whole performance was really convincing.
But of course the great highlight was Anja Harteros' Arabella. I do not like everything she does but there is no doubt that she is a great singer for Strauss operas. Her voice is like silver with a very clear and beautiful timbre. Her upper register is very light and she has the ability to sing the most delicate phrases like they were nothing. Her performance as little cheeky girl was really convincing and her whole appearance was just great. She totally fitted into this role and acted it out impressively.
The whole evening was a great pleasure and I enjoyed every single second of it. I really advice everyone to not miss the online broadcast on the 11th of july. The performance gets 9 stars from me.

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