Sunday, 25 September 2016

Otto Nicolai, Il Templario - Salzburger Festspiele, Großes Festspielhaus

Concert performance 30th August

As glorious final of this year's festival I went to see the rarity Il Templario by Otto Nicolai who is known to basically be the founder of the Wiener Philharmoniker. The piece is a very interesting example of the combination of Italian Belcanto and Germanic instrumentation with ravishing ensemble scenes and captivating dramatic flow. While the story is rather complicated the melodies are very catchy and show that Nicolai is one of the many underestimated composers.
The Wiener Philharmoniker played the piece of their founder with great passion and showed that they really want people to discover this wonderful music. The dramatic drive and the soft elegance of the orchestra were impressive and thanks to conductor Andrés Orozco-Estrada everything sounded very much in balance. He worked out the dramatic outbursts with great energy and was also able to support the singers more than appropriately. The Salzburger Bachchor did a great job during the several choir parts with a balanced sound and highly tasteful phrasing.
In the smaller roles of Isacco di York and Luca di Beaumanoir we heard Franz Supper and Armando Piña who both gave solid performances. Supper sometimes seemed to have some difficulties with intonation, but without any serious issues. Adrian Sâmpetrean as Cedrico il Sassone showed that he has a very beautiful voice with a warm pleasant timbre that has a lovely balance between dramatic skills and lyric abilities.
Kristiane Kaiser as Rovena seemed a bit uncomfortable even though she did a good job overall. Sometimes her soprano could have been a bit more flexible and sound more relaxed. Nevertheless she gave a very elegant and passionate performance.
Briano, the plot's antagonist, was sung by Luca Salsi, who also sang excellently. His powerful dark baritone voice with its threating timbre suited the role perfectly and he showed great abilites with his elegant Belcanto phrasing.
My personal highlight was mezzo soprano Clémentine Margaine as Rebecca. Margaine's voice is sensual, her timbre is warm and tender and she has the dramatic power that is also important for that role. She probably gave the performance of the evening and is definitely a name to remember.
Last but not least, Juan Diego Flórez also gave a great performance as male lead, Vilfredo d'Ivanhoe and mastered the many high notes without any problems. His piercing bright tenor voice gained some dramatic power over the few last years and it sounds pretty good.
Alltogether it was a brilliant night with a great re-discovery and hopefully the festival will go on with its rarity policy and give us many more rarely performed operas that are worth being performed again. Therefor I give 8 stars to the marvelous performance of Il Templario.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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