Friday, 25 March 2016

Richard Wagner, Tannhäuser - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Performance 24th March

No concept is also a concept. That was what came into my mind all the time watching the production of Tannhäuser at the DOB. After deciding spontaneously to come to Berlin one day earlier to see this performance I was looking forward to hear a great cast. I was not disappointed by the singers, but the production is really lacking of interesting ideas. Kirsten Harms seemed not to have any ideas about the opera and only shows a series of strangely staged scenes. Especially the second act seems more like a concert performance than an actual staged version. Stage, costumes and light were done by Bernd Damovsky who did not really help. The stage was non existent and the costumes were an extreme contrast with historical dresses and knight's armours. It looked as if a group of people from the middle age were kidnapped into a bunker.
At least musically I was not disappointed. Ivan Repušić conducted a very transparent and clear Tannhäuser. The Orchester der Deutsche Oper Berlin gave a great performance even though I already heard them do better. A really intensive performance was made by the Chor und Extrachor der Deutschen Oper Berlin. They sang really beautifully and did a very good job, especially the entry of the guests was phenomenal.
Elbenita Kajtazi had a very short appearance as Hirt but did very well. Her light soprano has a very beautiful clear timbre and suited the role perfectly.
The four minnesingers Walther, Biterwolf, Heinrich and Reinmar were performed by Clemens Bieber, Noel Bouley, Jörg Schörner and Andrew Harris. They did a very good job and especially the climax of the first act sounded so balanced! I have to point out Clemens Bieber, who stood out with his beautiful tenor voice. Albert Pesendorfer sang his Landgraf Hermann very solemnly and dignifiedly. His bass voice is very dark-coloured and has quite some power.
My personal highlight (and probably also for many people in the audience) was Mathias Hausmann as Wolfram. His baritone voice suits this role just perfectly and his performance was exemplary. His performance showed great musicality and showed that the role is closely bond to the genre of the the German Kunstlied. He sang his part so songfully and lyrically that it was a pleasure to hear.
Ricarda Merbeth sang both female roles, Elisabeth and Venus, which is obviously an idea of the production. As I already mentioned after last weeks Helena, I just prefere her Strauss singing to her Wagner singing. She did an incredible job, no doubt, but it just does not really seem perfect. Elisabeth definitely suited her voice better while Venus seemed to have some parts that are simply written for a lower type of voice. As always her diction was perfect and amazes me every single time. Every single syllable is pronounced so clearly that  you actually would not need any subtitles at all.
Stefan Vinke sang the very difficult role of Tannhäuser and did quite well. He is an animal, a force of nature unleashing extraordinary power with his voice. It is incredible that he manages to sing so intensively for the whole evening without showing any signs of tiredness. However, I sometimes wished for a little bit less power and especially in the upper register he seems to need the power to hit those high notes. I am always irresolute if I like it or not, but in the end I was just amazed. To manage this role without any issues and such power is just magnificent.
The whole performance (though optically boring) was a great success and the audience went crazy for the three main protagonists (especially Hausmann got an immense applause and many bravo shouts). I would give the performance totally earned 8 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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