Thursday, 5 May 2016

Giuseppe Verdi, La Traviata - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Performance 2nd May

After some Puccini I went off to see some Verdi the following day. La Traviata is probably one of the most popular operas of all time and most people know it very well. This bears advantages and dangers for the performers. The production at Deutsche Oper Berlin was created by Götz Friedrich and is kind of vintage. The classy stage (Frank Philipp Schlößmann) and the elegant costumes (Klaus Bruns) looked very beautifully and created a very decadent flair. Nevertheless the direction seemed a bit boring and conservative. Not really totally exciting, but beautifully to look at.
Musically Ivan Repušić led a very soft chamber music like performance that rarely became very loud. This of course created a very intimate atmosphere but sometimes I wished for a little bit more dramatic flow. The Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin played vividly and gushingly with elegant phrases and great rhythmic expression. Also the Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin gave a lovely performance during the many choir passages.
The performances of the soloists were quite ambivalent sometimes. The smaller roles were casted very well and showed that the Deutsche Oper has a very fine ensemble. Marko Mimica as Grenvil, Michael Adams as the Marquis, and Gideon Poppe gave solid performances and did very well in their few appearances. Dong-Hwan Lee as Baron Douphol sang with a very intimidating dark voice. He never seemed brutal and always showed some kind of noble superiority.
Rebecca Jo Loeb as Annina also gave a solid performance, but seemed a bit one-dimensional from time to time. Amira Elmadfa on the other hand gave a brilliant performance in the small role of Flora Bervoix. Her seductive warm voice sounded very beautifully and her portrayal also made a very convincing impression to me.
Jumping in for the ill Thomas Hampson was George Petean who gave one of the best performances of the evening. His dark but noble baritone voice suits the role of Giorgio Germont very well. While beeing a little bit expressionlessly at the beginning he improved from minute to minute and became more and more impressive throughout the performance. He even sang an impressive optional high note at the end of the first scene of act 2.
The role of Alfredo was sung by Albanian tenor Saimir Pirgu who has a very smooth youthful voice. While his lower register has a darker timbre his upper register is bright and clear. He sang his part very intimately and passionately. Admittedly the high c was not totally perfect, but alltogether his performance was probably the best of the whol evening. Especially during the second half his performance was so instense and emtional that it was a pleasure to watch him.
Jumping in for Diana Damrau surely is not an easy thing and many people in the audience just came bto see her. Nevertheless she had to cancel due to illness and Italian soprano Patrizia Ciofi jumped in for the title role. Ciofi's acting in the role was simply thrilling and totally convincing. The agony and despair of Violetta was so vivid that it almost made me cry. However, vocally she constantly seemed to be a bit husky and ill herself. I personally think that she might be to light for the role of Violetta which definitely demands a more dramatic type of coloratura soprano. Nevertheless she gave (except of the high e flat in act 1) a solid performance and got the gratitude of the audience for jumping in spontaneously.
Alltogether it was an entertaining evening but not really a moment of glory for the Deutsche Oper. Of course they were quite unlucky to lose two of the main singers, but they managed to save the performance quite appropriately. The production gets 7 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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