Friday, 25 December 2015

Johann Strauss Junior, Die Fledermaus - Semperoper Dresden

Performance 23rd December

For the second evening of my christmas opera marathon (and the last one before christmas) I visited Dresden once again to see the most famous operetta by Strauss Junior. The prototype of a Viennese operetta is still a core piece of our repertoire and usually is often played around christmas and new year's eve.
The production directed by Günter Krämer plays with many Austrian (not neccesarily Viennese) clichés. Anyway I personally thought that the piece lost a lot of its originality because many things were turned into ridicule. The staging (Gisbert Jäkel) looked good, but could have been the stage of any other opera as well. The idea to continue the stage around the orchestra pit gave the production the positive effect that the audience felt included in the action. The costumes by Falk Bauer featured the famous Dirndl dresses and Lederhosn (the traditional costumes of the alpine region) which is not really Viennese but anyway. The most positive achievement of the production in my opinion was that the singers were so close to the audience (thanks to the enlarged stage). Many times the audience was getting involved in the plot with some lovely jokes. Here I have to mention Adele's second couplet because our Adele left the stage and seduced a gentleman in the first row. What a lovely funny idea!
Musically the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden gave a magnificent performance under the lead of conductor  Stefan Lano. The accuracy of the orchestra and Lano's conducting accumulated in a genuinely marvelous performance from the orchestra pit. Only sometimes I wished for a more Viennese sound (especially in terms of accentuation and tempo fluctuation) but however, they played impressively anyway. Also the Sächsischer Staatsopernchor Dresden sang very well in the numerous choir numbers. The second act is unthinkable without a good choir!
The production's Frosch was played by Wolfgang Stumph who is a famous comedian from Saxonia. Of course he modified his part in deference of current headlines and trivia. I already thought it was funny, but the audience totally went crazy and showed their appreciation with much applause.
In the small roles of Ida, Dr. Blind and Alfred we heard Gundula Rosenkranz, Tom Martinsen and Merto Sungu. All three gave a good performance, but did not really have the chance to really convince due to the size of their roles.
Christina Bock sang a very decadent Orlofsky (dressed as a Vampire) with beautiful sound and a very warm timbre. As Frank we heard Oliver Zwarg who gave a strong performance with his Wagner proven baritone voice. Even though he has a very heavy voice he had no problems with the light singing of his role and mastered it without any problems.
Young baritone Sebastian Wartig sang Dr. Falke alias die Fledermaus and showed that he has a very strong instrument with a very pleasant timbre. Wartig has a lot of potential and hopefully takes care of his lovely voice so we can hear much more in the future.
In the role of Adele it took Emily Dorn some time to get comfortable. I had the feeling that she did not feel totally comfortable during the first act. It was better in the second act and in the third act she reached peak form. Apart from her singing she also was a very fine actress and convinced very well as cheeky maid.
The male protagonist, Gabriel von Eisenstein, was performed by Jürgen Müller who is singing a lot of heroic repertoire. In the role of Gabriel I sometimes missed the power of a heroic Heldentenor which might be caused by the lightness and demanded agility of the role. Still Müller sang very well and especially during the final act he was very convincing.
The female lead was performed by Natalie Karl who jumped in for Christiane Libor (who I was hoping to see originally, what happened?). Karl has a very light but powerful voice. Her lower registers and the lower part of her upper register showed quite some power. Unfortunately the very top of her voice tended to be thin and a little bit shrill. I would have preferred a bigger voice (bigger but at least as agile as Karl's voice) but Karl did a good job anyway, especially with her acting skills and (I just have to mention it) her décolleté which draw everyone's attention to it and that tight accentuating dress.
Finally I have to say it was a good performance, not perfect but still quite good and better than most other houses could do. I had a very entertaining funny evening and therefore the performance gets 7 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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