Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Engelbert Humperdinck, Hänsel und Gretel - Landestheater Linz, Musiktheater

Performance 25th December

My already traditional christmas opera marathon started in Linz once again this year with the production of Humperdinck's famous fairy-tale opera which I already saw last year. As last time I really liked the production led by former artistic director Rainer Mennicken which featured some lovely details and several really touching moments. Compared to last year I noticed that the stage (also by Mennicken together with Christian Schmidleithner) ist a bit difficult for the singers (though looking beautiful and showing some gorgeous ideas) because a lot of sound "gets lost" onstage. The costumes (also Schmidleithner) suited the different roles very well and helped to support the differentiation of the the characters. But due to the fact that I already knew the production, my main interest was for the musical performance.
Takeshi Moriuchi once again showed great understanding of the details of this ravishing score and led a controlled and focused performance. The Brucknerorchester Linz showed great balance and accuracy during the performance. The play with intensive passion and wonderful constrasts between the reverent parts and the almost dance-like tunes. Also the Kinder- & Jugendchor des Landestheater Linz gave a very balanced and accurate performance during the finale.
I definitely have to mention Fenja Lukas as Sandmännchen & Taumännchen. Her beautiful light and soft soprano voice sounded marvelous and matched her beautiful physique. She seemed more comfortable with the latter one of the two roles but gave a nice performance in both of them.
Martin Achrainer gave a solid performance as Peter, the father. His baritone voice filled the role without any problems even though there could have been a bit more flexibility, but that is just a matter of taste I guess.
Cheryl Lichter as mother Gertrud seemed a bit stressed in that role. While some really exposed high notes worked very well she did not really convince with the rest. Too often she was covered by the orchestra too easily and simply seemed not really comfortable with the role.
One of the highlights of the performance was Matthäus Schmidlechner who once again sang the role of the witch. His focused timbre is both flexible and carries through the auditorium easily. But not just vocally, also his acting convinced me and the audience. I am still not a fan of the fact that tenors take the role which originally was written for a mezzo, but Schmidlechner simply did a great job this evening.
The two title roles were sung by Martha Hirschmann and Theresa Grabner. Both sang their roles really beautifully, but sometimes had to fight against the power of the orchestra. Hirschmann's bright mezzo voice is very flexible and therefor suits the role of Hänsel very well. Grabner's light soprano filled the beautiful lyric lines of Gretel with life. Especially during the famous Abendsegen their voices blended together very well and so it was a pleasure to listen to them.
Alltogether I was very happy to see the lovely production again and I can only recommend to see the production. My opinion: 8 stars for a beautiful fairy-tale evening.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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