Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Giacomo Puccini, Turandot -Deutsche Oper am Rhein – Theater Duisburg 

Performance 5th December 

The plot of Puccini's last opera Turandot revolves around a Chinese princess and the love of Kalaf to her. Therefore build the Deutsche Oper am Rhein a cooperation with the National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts in Taiwan to produce this opera. The Asian team developed a great production based on symbolic elements and atmospheric video (JunJieh Wang) and light (Volker Weinhart) installations.
Huan-Hsiung Li designed his production as a young woman's dream who is embodied by the dancer Yi-An Chen in a way of a distracted and sympathetic bystander. She is always present on stage as the dreamer and observer of what is happening in her 13th century dream. Putting the plot into a dream, gave Huan-Hsiung Li the chance to stage the sometimes irrational scenes over dramatically. Everything functioned well together for this vision: Jo-Shan Liang's stage design showed the silhouette of a medieval Chinese town with a gate which can be opened and closed for appearances. Nothing more than a scroll as a path from the gate is covering the stage. The constantly changing light and video installations were capturing the situation's atmosphere. Classic elegant costumes (HsuanWu Lai) based on Chinese traditional costumes of the 13th century emphasised the serious theme.
Important part of the whole opera is the choir (rehearsal: Gerhard Michalski) which represents the folk. The Chor der Deutschen Oper am Rhein demonstrated melodramatic greatness especially in the higher voice passages. A huge compliment is going to Sabina López Miguez and her children's choir Kinderchor am Rhein Duisburg. The children sang their two scenes very emotionally and mellowly.
Sami Luttinen appeared as Kalaf's loving father Timur with a bright trembling bass voice. The three ministers Ping (Bogdan Baciu), Pang (Florian Simson) and Pong (Cornel Frey) represented a refreshing mixture of narrator, advisor and prankster. Bogdan Baciu showed up as the calm anchor between the two untwisted tenor parts of Simson and Frey. With a natural elegance and freedom in his warm baritone voice, attracted Baciu the audience's attention. The self-sacrificing slave Liú was sung by Brigitta Kele. With great lightness in her voice featured she a sensitive woman. The two main characters Turandot (Linda Watson) and Kalaf (Zoran Todorovich) harmonised nicely together. Although Linda Watson's strong voice power drowned Zoran Todorovich's dramatic tenor voice in a few parts. But you can't actually count this as a negative point as Watson's voice was still present in the big choir scenes; Who could really hold against such a voluminous voice as hers? Todorovich's Nessun dorma aria was very solemn. He let some piano parts fad away with a breathy voice. In combination with his dark timbre highlighted this Kalaf's despair in this situation. Linda Watson replied with a sharply and reedy voice.
Axel Kober conducted the Duisburger Philharmoniker which took up the dream metaphor and hold everything in a quite gentle tune. The singers were supported perfectly due to accurate dynamic changings.
I give 8 out of 10 stars for this nicely production which shows how new technology as visual desgin can enhance an opera production.
Reviewed by Christine Arnold

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