Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Richard Wagner, Rienzi - Oper Leipzig

Performance 31st January

After a lovely night in Munich I travelled on to Leipzig to see Wagner's early work Rienzi, a marvelous example of french Grand opéra, just in German. This opera is definitely one of the reasons why I became a wagnerian and therefor I was looking forward to see it.
The production led by Nicolas Joel is not very inventive and sometimes so exaggerated that it seems like being over the top was the goal. Staging and costumes by Andreas Reinhardt looked magnificently and especially the map of Rome including the miniatures of famous monuments made a lovely impression. The whole mafia look was a nice idea even though it was not really worked through appropriately.
Anyway musically it was an evening with ambivalent performances. Matthias Foremny knew how to make the music sound solemnly and impressively. Everything sounded hugely, dramaticly and full of passion. The Gewandhausorchester gave a solid performance following his lead and realized the score very nicely. Also the Chor und Extrachor der Oper Leipzig (including Damen des Jugendchores) gave everyhing in the several bid choir scenes. Sometimes I wished for a little bit more volume but their performance was fine anyway.
Sandra Maxheimer gave a short but nice performance as Friedensbote with a lovely mezzo voice that has a warm and clear timbre. I liked Martin Petzold (Baroncelli) more when I saw him in Das Liebesverbot last year. This time he just seemed not to feel totally comfortable in his role even though he did not have any issues vocally. Ricardo Llamas Márquez on the other hand gave a nice performance as Cecco with a strong baritone voice that sounded very masculine and youthful timbre. Sejong Chang's Kardinal Orvieto was very dignified and honorable with his dark bass voice.
Paolo Orsini was sung by Jürgen Kurth who convinced with a very sustaining voice that had a very clear and light timbre and still enough power to be heard through the orchestra. Milcho Borovinov as Steffano Colonna also made a fine impression with a dark and threatingly bass.
Unfortunately Kathrin Göring who would have sung the role of Adriano was ill. I was really looking forward to hear her lovely voice again. Her replacement who obviously already sang the role in Leipzig seemed to have serious issues that evening. Chariklia Marvopoulou's voice did just not get going throughout the performance. While she sounded ok in the dramatic outbursts in the upper register she was not able to manage the lower parts and during the great aria "Gerechter Gott" she just managed to get through. Thankfully she jumped in for Göring but she obviously was not totally prepared for the performance.
My personal highlight of the evening was a role that actually is not really very outstanding in the plot but vocally just blew my mind: Vida Mikneviciute as Irene. Her appearance in the first scene literally made me stop breathing because I just did not expect such an enormous voice from such a little slim lady. Her voice is huge but still very clear and has a beautifully sounding timbre. It is a pity they cut the great duet in the final act between her and Rienzi because I would have loved to hear more of her!! It is really incredible that I have not heard of her before.
One of the main reasons I wanted to see this performance was Andreas Schager as Rienzi. I heard a lot those past few months about him and his magnificent voice. I do have to say that his voice truly is a proper wagnerian tenor voice but I did feel that it might already be a little to heavy for Rienzi. I would have preferred his singing to be lighter. Sometimes it seemed like that the tessitura of the role is just to high for it calls for a very light but powerful Heldentenor. Anyway Schager still did a marvelous job, it was just a matter of taste.
All together I enjoyed the performance despite the few deficits this evening. I would give the performance still 7 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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