Monday, 21 March 2016

Richard Strauss, Die Liebe der Danae - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Performance 18th March

Due to the fact that the DOB is having a Strauss focus for the next few weeks I came back to Berlin to have a Strauss-weekend. The first evening started with Strauss rarely performed Die Liebe der Danae. An opera that is a real rarity with incredibly beautiful music, but never really entered the repertoire. Strauss himself only heard the full opera once in a semi-public rehearsal at the Salzburg Festival 1944 but the premiere was cancelled due to the Hitler assassination attempt. It finally premiered three years after Strauss' death in 1952.
The music is just marvelous and shows the incredible mastery of Strauss' style. Especially the third act lifts up everyone with its divine melodies and soaring phrases. The production led by Kirsten Harms was really nice and focused on the relationships of the three main protagonists. There were some really interesting ideas and especially during the final act the direction showed interesting aspects. The stage (Bernd Damovsky) and the costumes (Dorothea Katzer) were incredibly beautiful and matched with the ravishing music.
Sebastian Weigle led the Orchester der Deutsche Oper Berlin and showed great understanding of the score. He pointed out the great spectre of colours and shimmering sounds of Strauss' music. The orchestra followed his lead and created a great atmosphere with beautifully elaborated playing. Also the Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin gave a nice performance during the few choir parts. Especially the reception of Midas was a great musical moment.
First to the four royal couples: The four kings (Paul Kaufmann, Clemens Bieber, Thomas Lehman & Alexei Botnarciuc) seemed to do a good job, but did not really have much to sing anyway. Their wives Semele, Europa, Alkmene and Leda (Nicole Haslett, Martina Welschenbach, Rebecca Jo Loeb & Katharina Peetz) on the other hand were on stage more often and gave a lovely performance. Especially Nicole Haslett's beautiful light soprano sounded brilliantly and would probably also make a great Sophie or Zerbinetta.
Thomas Blondelle's Merkur also sounded great with a very light focused timbre and exceptional diction. His acting was very good as well and made his short appearance a real highlight.
Burkhard Ulrich sang the role of King Pollux and also gave us a taste of his strong and clear tenor voice that seems not to have any problems with a high tessitura.
Xanthe also does not have a lot to sing but is singing the wonderful duet with Danae at the beginning of act 1. It is a really intersting role because it stays mostly in the middle and lower register but also calls for quite high notes (especially in the duet). Adriana Ferfezka managed the role lovely with a beautiful clear timbre and a very shiny top.
Mark Delavan sang the role of Jupiter which also has an extremely high tessitura (for a low voice). He managed the role even though I had the Feeling that the high parts really challenged him Anyway, he did a great Job throughout the performance and especially the final act was just magnificent.
Midas was sung by Raymond Very who has a very strong and bright tenor voice. His voice had a very pleasant timbre and his phrasing was beautifully lyrical. The love duets in act 2 and 3 were simply divine and real highlights.
The title role, Danae, was performed by soprano Manuela Uhl. Her voice is strong and powerful but still has a very lyrical quality with soaring top notes and a very beautiful timbre. The long beautiful phrases of this role are not something easy to sing but Uhl did a great job here. Her silvery voice was floating over the orchestra and she portrayed this strange young girl wonderfully.
Alltogether it was a very enjoyable evening and I really ask myself why this beautiful opera is not performed more often. Anyway, this performance totally earned ravishing 8 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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