Sunday, 4 December 2016

Engelbert Humperdinck, Königskinder - Semperoper Dresden

Performance 30th November

The final performance of my marathon took place in the beautiful Semperoper in Dresden and was another work that I have not seen live before. Humperdinck's Königskinder shares many details with his famous Hänsel und Gretel but definitely is more serious and sober. The music is not as simple as in Hänsel und Gretel and the whole plot is definitely not really a children's fairytale. Especially the third act is truly heartbreaking with its straight and sad message.
The production in Dresden was led by Jetske Mijnssen who did a nice job with a very naturalistic and reasonable direction. She was able to really show the emotions and relations between the characters without making it too obvious. Everything always seemed very natural and understandable.I especially liked the children acting as the many animals in the house of the witch. I thought it was a lovely idea that really worked marvelously. The stage and the costumes by Christian Schmidt also supported the plot effectively and looked beautiful. Optically the production always gave a very elegant and refined impression.
Musically the evening was led by Thomas Rösner who showed the many interesting details of the colourful score with intensive passion. He brought out many different shades of the music and kept everything in elegant balance. The Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden once again did a great job and played the score excitingly and enjoyed the rousing music. Especially the tragic music in the third act with all its emotion and tragedy sounded lovely and was really touching. Also the Sächsischer Staatsopernchor Dresden gave a solid performance with fine inner balance and good accuracy during the second act.
While there are only a few bigger roles there are several smaller roles that sometimes just have a few sentences to sing. Most of these most roles were performed solidly without any issues. I will only focus on the main roles and therefor skip the smaller roles.
The roles of the woodchopper and the broom-maker were sung by Michael Eder and Tom Martinsen. Eder's dark and profound bass voice suited the role very well and sounded rough and bossy. Martinsen's light tenor has a very light and focused timbre which also worked very well with that role.
Tichina Vaughn as witch was definitely a highlight. Her profound and dramatic voice was simply marvelous to listen to. While having a very dramatic quality in her voice it still has a very beautiful soft and even timbre. It was a pity that she did not have more to sing after the first act because I would have loved to her more of her.
Same is valid for Christoph Pohl who performed the role of the mistrel. His elegant and incredibly beautiful baritone voice is simply magnificent. The noble timbre of his voice together with his highly tasteful phrasing make his performance really wonderful. I am always impressed by the balance and the even transitions between his registers. It really was a pleasure to listen to him.
The male protagonist, the son of the king, was sung by Daniel Behle who also has a very beautiful voice. His youthful tenor voice has a very lyrical quality on the one hand and also already a dramatic timbre on the other hand. He definitely is one of the greatest tenor hopes of the present. I could imagine him as a very good Lohengrin already and he will sing David in Bayreuth next year. His performance was really touching and showed great artistry.
Finally Barbara Senator sang the female lead, the goose girl, with a fullbodied soprano that has a very clear and shiny upper register. Her voice is very youthful and has a bright and pleasing timbre which suited the role of the young naive girl quite well. Her performance was simply lovely and did not fail to convince with a great voice and good acting skills.
Alltogether it was a solid performance with some really good performances and simply lovely music. Especially the sad third act really touched me and almost made me shed a tear. Therefor I give 8 stars to this beautiful production and really entertaining evening.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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