Friday, 12 February 2016

Ludwig van Beethoven, Fidelio - Bayerische Staatsoper, Nationaltheater 

Performance 10th February 

Because the production of Fidelio at the Bavarian State Opera is more than five years old, this review should not be focused on the staging or the scenery, but I still feel like passing my opinion about it. Calixto Bieito’s concept is a very abstract one and even if there is no real prison on the stage, everybody is kind of trapped in a big maze of iron bars with horizontal and vertical fixed plates of glass between them at some places. Expect for Leonore and Florestan at the end of the opera, everybody has to stay in this huge scaffolding that was brought on the stage by Rebecca Ringst. The problem that I see in this attempt of bringing the basic principle of Beethovens opera, the ideals of freedom embodied by the revolting against despotism, in our time, is that the subject matter of Fidelio is shifted on a psychological level and the whole plot gets lost. Bieito’s concept that is too much focused on the individual unfreedom of every character in the opera sacrifices almost all interactions between them.
The two small male parts of Jaquino (Dean Power) and Don Fernando (Steven Humes) were delivered reliably. But even if Don Fernando’s arrival was staged quite spectacularly from a loge above the stage, where he appeared being dressed just like the Joker in Christopher Nolan’s Batman movie, I felt like making Don Fernandos act of releasing Florestan to an anarchistic one (because that is what the Joker embodies in the movie) was far-fetched.
Hanna-Elisabeth Müller as Marzelline was one of the highlights of this throughout magnificent cast. She owns a beautiful lyric voice and always phrased her tones through all registers just perfectly while you could understand every single word very distinctly.
The sound of Franz-Josef Selig’s voice is very noble and while singing alone with the orchestra I really enjoyed his Rocco, but unfortunately he could not assert hisself during trios or quartets because of too less volume in his voice or just not singing loud enough.
Don Pizarro was performed very convincing by Tomasz Konieczny who made his status as the arbitrary ruling tyrant very clear by a mighty bass voice with a dark and unique timbre. Because of his vivid presence on the stage and the diversely presentation of his voice, whose strength surpassed all other voices of the evening in volume, he fitted the role of Don Pizarro in a complete way
It is just incredible that Peter Seiffert has still got such a strong voice and the power to perform Florestan like this. Right at the beginning of his big scene after the intermission his „Gott“ shout pervaded the air of the stage and the whole house with an amazing intensity. Over the ten minutes of his recitative and his aria he managed to increase the atmosphere of his performance by his clear tenor voice without any hearable struggle.
Anja Kampe is an outstanding soprano and she performed a solid Leonore in general, but she had some issues in the high register and was compelled to accelerate the very high tones. At parts like these she seemed kind of strained, even if it did not happen too often during the performance. She still raised the biggest cheer under the singers for her efforts.
The way how the audience welcomed Zubin Mehta, the former chief conductor of the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, was thrilling. Even before the first performed bar of the opera the audience cheered for the incoming conductor. Through the evening it appeared that this loudly making known of trust in Mehta even before the opera by the audience happened correctly. He led the orchestra very sovereign and with a subtle intuition for the singers. The parts together with the choir in the prison and at the end of the opera in which the human liberty is extolled were performed greatly moving. The applause for the orchestra and especially Mehta at the end of the evening was tremendous.
Reviewed by Lukas Leipfinger

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