Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Giacomo Puccini, Turandot - Oper Leipzig

Performance 27th November

As second part of my Leipzig trip and opera no. 4 of my november opera marathon I attended a performance of Puccini's final opera in the new production in Leipzig. The production is led by director Balázs Kovalik who transferred the plot into a futuristic regime. This idea worked out really well and during the whole evenin Kovalik elaborated this admittedly weird plot into a understandable and touching story. Kovalik showed great understanding of the characters and their unique relation with eachother. He was able to bring out the emotional content of the plot and managed to create a really impressive production. The spectacular stage by Heike Scheele helped a lot to support the central idea of the production with its futuristic honeycomb design and the smartly placed paths within the scenery. The costumes by Sebastian Ellrich sometimes looked a bit weird but also suited to the futuristic placement of the plot.
Matthias Foremny led a muscially truly impressive evening with sheer power as well as delicate fragility. He worked out the ruthless brutality of the score and also the beautiful vocal lines that are so typical for Puccini. The Gewandhausorchester did a great job playing the music with intensive power without being too brutal or unmusical at any time. It was a real pleasure to hear the magnificent contrast between huge moments and wonderfully delicate parts of the score. Also the Chor der Oper Leipzig was amazing and managed the highly demanding choir part of the opera very well. No matter if the sweet cantilenes to the moon or the excitement when the executioner comes (including a high c sharp for the sopranos!!), they always sounded brilliantly clear and balanced.
After his lovely performance in Lucia di Lammermoor the day before Sehong Chang was able to convince once again as a mandarin. His huge dignified bass voice suited the role magnificently and it was a pleasure to listen to him. Also the three ministers Ping, Pang & Pong, sung by Jürgen Kurth, Dan Karlström and Patrick Vogel sounded very good. The highly ironic parts of these characters were brought out very well and the beginning of act 2 was very entertaining.
Martin Petzold as emperor Altoum did not really convince and seemed not totally comfortable with the role. I had the feeling that it did not really suit his voice even though he did not have any serious issues. It was just a matter of suitability of the role.
Randall Jakobsh was an impressive Timur with a powerful and solemn voice that was full of radiance. His curse after Liú's death literally gave me goosebumps and was simply marvelous. I was truly ipressed by the sheer power and the elegance that he was spreading at the same time.
Speaking of Liú, her role was performed by Olena Tokar who has the most gorgeous soprano voice one could wish for. Her light lyric timbre and her beautiful phrasing were really magnificent and I was truly touched by her performance. Even though she already gave a truly wonderful performance I think that her Liú will grow even bigger and more impressive with years coming. So I would love to hear her again in this role in the near future.
The male lead was performed by Leonardo Caimi who also gave a flawless performance. He has everything the role calls for: power, the bright top and the stamina to endure this demanding role until the very last note. His strong, bright tenor voice has a very elegant and focused timbre and a seemingly easy top. His "Nessun dorma" was marvelous and showed that he is a first-class performer who really has the voice for such a role.
Finally the title role of Turandot was sung by dramatic soprano Jennifer Wilson who was a stunning heroine. She needed some time at the beginning to warm up but once she was ready she simply through around with high b flats, bs and cs like a laserbeam. Without any problems she managed to manoeuvre through this highly dangerous role and convinced with a steely focused dramatic voice that does not fear any highnotes at all. Brava, simply brava!
Alltogether it was a brilliant performance that gave me goosebumps several times. If you have the chance to see it: GO! It is definitely worth the journey to Leipzig and therefor I give 9 stars to the futuristic Turandot of Leipzig.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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