Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov, Der Goldene Hahn – Deutsche Oper am Rhein

Performance 15th April

Rimski-Korsakov’s last opera is an opera according to a fairy tail by Alexander Pushkin. “The Golden Cockerel” is a magical and funny satire with references to the reality of the Russian czardom. Dmitry Bertman emphasised exactly this two aspects of a funny fairy tail and a political satire with great humour. The whole production was very theatric as there is a focus on acting and exaggerated mimic art but which was still appropriate to the opera. According to the magically stile of this opera the setting was not precisely defined. While the king’s and his soldiers clothing makes think of the 1970’s and refer to the reality, the costumes of Queen von Schemacha and the astrologer were out of any time and stayed in a fairytale character (costumes and set design: Ene-Liis Semper). Eva Bodorová appeared in an impressive golden costume as the cockerel with a very accurate and clear voice. Cornel Frey as the  astrologer had a highly difficult part to sing. Rimski-Korsakov himself called this role a tenor altino as it is written in the extremely high register. Frey sang and played his role convincingly and flawless. In my opinion did the two voices of prince Gwidon (Corby Welch) and prince Afron (Roman Hoza) not match perfectly together as Hoza drifted in his singing away from the magical ambience and presented a tone colour which you would expect in an Italian opera but not in a Russian satire. Nonetheless both played their roles as the failure sons of King Dodon more than well. King Dodon is originally written for a bass voice but in Düsseldorf he is cast by the Russian baritone Boris Statsenko. He is a real win to this production. Statsenko was doing his acting, singing and dancing so easily so it was great fun seeing him on stage. Neither the heights nor the lower register were making him any trouble and he was able to use his voice to precisely interpret the king’s emotions and thoughts. This King Dodon was not only a stupid funny clown but showed his anger about his even stupider sons, his despair about the enemies and his lust towards Queen von Schemacha. All in all was Statsenko a multifarious king. Sami Luttinen in the role of the king’s follower General Polkan came with a rich and trembling bass voice. The second act were full of dancing and golden costumes. The young soprano Antonina Vesenina gained in the course of her first appearance quickly more and more confidence and showed the audience a lively queen with an unfettered singing. The Chor der Deutschen Oper am Rhein was not that confident in some parts but this will surely be better in the next shows. Especially the men had could have more power in their singing. The Düsseldorfer Symphoniker under Axel Kober played very mellow and had a bit of mysticism in their tone which topped of the whole production just perfectly nice. I give 9 stars for this entertaining high-quality production.
Reviewed by Christine Arnold

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