Saturday, 21 May 2016

Carl Maria von Weber, Der Freischütz - Staatsoper im Schillertheater Berlin

Performance 19th May

Weber's Freischütz is probably one of the most romantic operas ever written and historically it had a very special influence on later German composers like Wagner. The difficulties of the piece (which quite often are underestimated) are that the opera calls for very special voices in most roles and also convincing actors because of the dramatic tensions within the plot. Moreover there is a lot that you can do in a production due to the various sceneries.
However, the production led by Michael Thalheimer is quite a disappointment. The stage (Olaf Altmann) is basically the same throughout the whole evening and is not really what I would call creative (a long big pipe basically). Thalheimer does not bring any action into the story and cut most of the dialogues as well. In the end it looked more like a concert performance with costumes (it probably would have been better to do so anyway). Fortunately the costumes (Katrin Lea Tag) looked nicely and brought at least a bit of aesthetics into the performance.
The conductor of the evening was Alexander Soddy who conducted everything precisely and nicely but without real passion. Very often his tempos were relatively slow and he just couldn't bring out the excitement of the score. The Staatskapelle Berlin played lovely and sometimes quite chamber music like. Alltogether they gave a solid performance with some really beautiful moments (the viola solo for Ännchen's aria for example was really great). The Staatsopernchor Berlin was a bit unbalanced this evening and some of the leading melodies were not pointed out well enough.
The speaking role of Samiel was performed by Peter Moltzen who was more a joke than being really creepy or scary. Jumping around and making strange sounds (probably Thalheimer's idea) is just not really the way Samiel should be. Sometimes I felt more like being in a comedy than in a serious piece.
The smaller appearances of Killian (Timothy Sharp) and the Bridemaids (Verena Allertz, Katharina Bolding, Regina Emersleben-Motz, Konstanze Löwe & Claudia Tuch) were done very well and made a good impression. Roman Trekel as Ottokar did a good job with his very noble solemn voice. His performance was very convincing and enjoyable.
In the role of Kuno we heard legendary Victor von Halem whose dark but still soft bass voice might not be as good as in the past, but he still filled the role with life and authority. Jan Martiník as Eremit gave a bit of a one-dimensional performance. His voice seems a bit too young and not dignified enough yet for this role.
Also Tobias Schabel as Kaspar was not really convincing. His performance was a bit colorless and lacked real passion. Also his voice seemed not to be perfect for this role. The role of Kaspar calls for a very agile and flexible bass voice with a dark and intimidating timbre.
Evelin Novak as Ännchen did a good job even though her voice also was not really the right Fach for this role. While Novak's voice is a very beautiful lyric instrument with good power resources, Ännchen calls for a German soubrette which means a very agile voice that is extremely flexible and has a very direct intonation. However, Novak did a very good job anyway and was a very likeable Ännchen.
My main reason of interest for this performance was Dorothea Röschmann as Agathe. Röschmann's voice is quite unique and probably best used for her legendary Mozart roles like the Countess, Pamina or Donna Elvira. Her Agathe mainly impresses with the intimate parts and her marvelous mezza voce. While the big aria seemed not totally comfortable (she seemed to have lost a bit of her agility with the years) her cavatina was simply wonderful. She has the incredible talent to convey emotions through her voice so easily! After the performance she was finally awarded the title "Berliner Kammersängerin" for her work in Berlin.
The male protagonist Max was sung by Austrian tenor Andreas Schager. As usual his powerful bright tenor voice sounded marvelously. Unlike in his performance as Siegmund in Leipzig lately he did not have any serious text issues this time and gave a simply brilliant performance. His voice is so strong that he easily sings over the orchestra and a full choir without any signs of strain. Schager is definitely and undoubtedly one of the leading heroic tenors of our time.
I was a bit disappointed by some parts of the performance but alltogether it was a solid performance, not really extraordinarily good, but also not really bad. Therefor 7 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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