Monday, 17 August 2015

Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio - Salzburger Festspiele, Großes Festspielehaus

Main rehearsal 2nd August & TV broadcast

I managed to see the main rehearsal of this year's anticipated Fidelio production and I was just marvelously happy to be there. My impressions were very divided. Musically it was a magnificent performance while the production itself was quite weak. Optically it looked really nice and interesting but director Claus Guth could not put everything together with sense. His ideas were exaggerated and helplessly overdramatized. Christian Schmidt's costumes and staging were very unemotional and sterile but also very elegant and pretty. Guth's idea to cut all spoken parts of the text and fill those parts with "sound design" (awful horror film sounds) was just not really creative and probably the greatest deficit of this production. I was really annoyed by the terribly boring "dialogue scenes" and thought it was quite a pity to ruin the otherwise fine production.
Musically it was just the opposite. Franz Welser-Möst and the Wiener Philharmoniker gave a magnificent performance with great accuracy and exemplary musical power. Especially the Leonoren-Ouvertüre during the second part was fantastic and the audience went crazy after it. Once again the Philharmonics impressed me with a new found harmony that I did not perceive those last years.
Also the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor gave a nice performance. Only during the prisoner's choir they seemed to have chosen a very strange phrasing (very accentuated and quite staccato). But besides that they sang marvelously. I just thought that it was a pity that they sang the finale from behind the stage (another horrible idea, Mr. Guth...).
Sebastian Holecek as Don Fernando could have had a stronger voice with a more noble sound but did a fine job anyway. His acting looked more solemnly than his vocal performance. Anyway he was very convincing during his short appearance.
Norbert Ernst as Jaquino also gave a solid performance during his few appearances. His Jaquino sounded less youthfull than normally but still very interesting with a quite clear light timbre.
As Marzelline Olga Bezsmertna gave a nice performance. Usually this role is casted with a lighter voice but I thought it was very nice to have a stronger lyric soprano for it. She seemed very comfortable with the role, only the high c in the 1st act trio seemed off tune. Besides that little deficit she gave an almost perfect performance. Bravo!
My personal highlight was Hans-Peter König as Rocco. What a profound bass voice he has! The voice sounds strong with a very dark but warm timbre. I enjoyed every minute of his singing because it was so tasteful and lovely to listen to. He filled the whole auditorium with his voice and performed really marvelously.
Tomasz Konieczny was a very powerful Don Pizzaro but seemed not totally comfortable in the higher parts of the role. I wish he would have hold those notes a little longer, but I think it was just out of his comfort zone. Nevertheless he gave a very dramatic and thrilling overall impression throughout the evening.
Another highlight of the performance was Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan. Kaufmann really is at the peak of his abilities. His first note on the word "Gott" came out of nowhere with an incredible crescendo. Also the rest of his actually short appearance was so unbelievably superior that it was a pleasure to listen. What a pity that he did not have more to sing.
And now the title hero, Adrianne Pieczonka as Fidelio / Leonore. Pieczonka is always a guarantor for a good performance. Nevertheless she seemed quite strained in this role. She certainly did a good job but I had the strange feeling that she did not feel totally comfortable. The positive thing was that especially during the lyric parts she convinced with her really beautiful voice in contrast to many other Leonore performers. But also during the great finale she totally convinced with a strong a securely led voice.
In the end I thought it was a very fine performance musically while the production mostly annoyed me. So I would give Salzburg's Fidelio just 8 stars, even if musically it would be a very good 9).

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