Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Richard Strauss, Der Rosenkavalier - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Performance 10th April

As finale part of the Strauss-weeks performances I saw one of my absolute favorites and probably Strauss' most popular opera: Der Rosenkavalier. A piece that often whose difficulties are underestimated very often. Not just musically, but also in terms of acting it is quite difficult to perform without making it sound and look cheesy and cheap. To me as Austrian this production (by the late Götz Friedrich) is a very Prussian Rosenkavalier. At times I felt that it is as Austrian as Angela Merkel. It probably shows how little our dear German neighbours actually know about us. The stage and costumes (Gottfried Pilz & Isabel Ines Glathar) looked beautifully and elegant, but worked with so many cheap clichés that I was a bit bored after some time. However, Friedrich had some very interesting ideas that showed that he really thought about the plot. For example the detail that the Feldmarschallin puts some perfume into the silver rose was a lovely detail that created a link to the first scene of act 2. Some ideas were really great but still I was not totally happy with the production.
Musically Ulf Schirmer was a conductor who is quite familiar with this music and especially with the delicate Viennese soul of the opera, due to his former position in Vienna. He did a good job and showed that he knows the score very well. The performance was clear, subtle and elegant. The Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin also did a brilliant job realising the ideas of Schirmer. The performance was totally under control and yet highly musical.
The cast also feature some brilliant singing and lovely musicality. Of the smaller roles I have to mention three people. Fionnuala McCarthy was an incredibly elegant Marianne Leitmetzerin with a slim focused voice and a very attractive look. The role of the Italian Singer has always been a very interesting role with an extremely short appearance and still everyone is waiting for it and is waiting for a great performance. Matthew Newlin did a very good job in this role with a very clear and bright tenor voice. His timbre reminded me of great Mozart tenors and I imagine he would be great in some Mozart leads. Stephanie Lauricella sang the role of Annina and was marvelous in it. Her strong and warm mezzo soprano has a very erotic and seductive timbre which suited the role perfectly. She definitely is worth more than such a small role. I thought that her performance was simply brilliant and a marvelous experience.
Michael Kupfer-Radecky sang the role of Faninal with his Wagner-proven baritone voice. His timbre is warm with a very noble sound. But not only his strong instrument, also his acting was very good. His portrayal of the desperate father with the nervous outbreaks was very convincing.
Faninal's daughter, Sophie, was performed by young soprano Siobhan Stagg who has a lovely voice that was simply perfect for this role. In addition to her shiny bright soprano she has enough stamina to be heard over the orchestra without any problems. I was especially impressed by the beauty of tone in her upper register which had this magic Straussian silvery timbre.
Albert Pesendorfer sang the role of Baron Ochs with a very dark bass voice. I sometimes thought his voice was too heavy for the role and wished that his singing would sound a little bit easier but my overall impression was very good. His accent and everything suited the role very well even though I missed the distinct Viennese accent during the first act. However during the other two acts it was there as if it has always been there.
Daniela Sindram as Octavian was simply the performance of the evening. The sound of her voice, her phrasing, her acting, everything was simply perfect and totally convincing. Sometimes I almost forgot that it is just an opera due to her ravishing performance. Her voice combines power, a beautiful timbre and a great talent of musical phrasing and acting. What a great portrayal!!
Last but not least, the secret leading role, the Feldmarschallin, was sung by Michaela Kaune who jumped in for Anja Harteros (being ill once again). Kaune has sung this role before and did a wonderful job. Her portrayal was simply elegant, noble and very touching. She sang the role really well and showed great understanding of the character. Unfortunately her stamina was not as impressive and sometimes I would have liked to have a fuller sound in her voice. Her upper register, while being wonderfully soft during the delicate parts, was just a little bit thin from time to time. Nevertheless she gave a wonderful performance and was rewarded affectionate applause.
Alltogether it was a lovely evening and a nice performance. Therefore the Rosenkavalier production at DOB gets 8 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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