Saturday, 26 November 2016

Giuseppe Verdi, Un ballo in Maschera - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Performance 25th November

Being back in Berlin for an intensive week of operas I also attended the Verdi opera about the assassination of King Gustaf of Sweden. The production is still a remain of the times of Götz Friedrich who was responsible for it. Being almost 23 years old the production still does not fail to convince with great conduct of the plot with all its drama. Friedrich understood how to accomplish great effects with little effort and fill the evening with subtle details. The stage and the costumes were created by Gottfried Pilz and Isabel Ines Glathar. Both looked beautiful and especially the great finale with the ball worked really well with the elegant costumes, but also the abbandoned scenery for the love duet with its skulls and the horrifying lonliness was very effectful.
The musical lead was done by Ido Arad who conducted the detailed spirited score very elegantly with great sense for phrasing and supporting the singers. Sometimes he could have worked out the contrasts a little bit more, but alltogether he showed great musicality. The Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin followed his lead wonderfully and played passionately and very accurately. Everything sounded very nice and pleasing. Also the Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin sounded great and sang brilliantly with elegance and great sway.
The smaller roles were sang by Simon Pauly (Christian, the sailor), Gideon Poppe (the senior judge) and Robert Watson (a servant). All three of them did a very appropriate job with solid vocal performances. The two villains Count Horn (Florian Spiess) and Count Ribbing (Ben Wager) also sounded great with their dark profound voices. Their laughing scene in the third scene was simply lovely to watch with their highly ironic behaviour.
The role of Oscar seemed to have more importance than in usual production which I think is more than appropriate. Especially when sung by Heidi Stober who has a gorgeous soprano voice. She managed the jumpy lines without any problems and was simply a very very good choice for the role. Her clear timbre and the flexibility of her voice are simply perfect for this quite demanding role that has a very prominent role in this opera.
Also the role of Ulrika, the fortune teller, is a very important role even though she does only have one scene. Ronnita Miller also seemed a perfect choice for this special role. Her profound and dark voice suited the wisewoman wonderfully. She really had this diabolic radiance that is important for the second scene. Miller really made the audience shiver with her utterly exciting and convincing performance
The first protagonist of the love triangle was Roman Burdenko as Renato. His baritone voice is a mix of lyrical and also quite heroic qualities which worked very well with that role. He played the seemingly betrayed husband very well and his elegant timbre helped to convey his character through the music.
His wife Amelia was sung by recent Tucker Award Winner Tamara Wilson who was my main interest this evening. Her powerful voice combines power, vocal beauty and a very smooth transition between her registers. Her shiny clear top was as impressive as her dark and warm lower voice. She gave a really refined performance and seemed not to be bothered by any difficulties of the role at all. I hope she will be careful with her instrument because she is definitely a voice that is made for this kind of roles. I would love to see her in some Wagner and I really hope that she will be around more often in Europe.
The protagonist, King Gustaf, was sung by Korean tenor Yosep Kang who also is one of the great tenors of our time. His powerful clear tenor has everything you could wish for. He is not afraid of any high notes and not only his singing but also his acting is simply marvelous. He sang and played so passionately that it was a joy to watch him. He performs with such ease that one could believe that it is not that difficult at all. I can only say it is always a pleasure to hear him.
Alltogether it was a great night with great drama, wonderful singing and a genuinely convincing production. That is why I can give 9 stars without any doubt. Bravo!
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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