Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Idomeneo - Salzburger Landestheater

Premiere performance 4th December

The second opera performance of this season at the Landestheater in Salzburg features one of my favorite Mozart operas and one that is too rarely performed. Idomeneo was written before all the big famous operas and was composed for the court in Munich. It is clearly inspired by French opera with the very important choir parts and the highly dramatic plot. The opera is an enormously interesting piece with thrilling dramaturgy and an intensive display of complex characters and their relations. The new production in Salzburg was led by director Arila Siegert who has a background in dance. I was actually a bit disappointed by her work because I expected an interpretation that is more intensive and especially plays more with the performativity of the characters. Most of it was very conventional and did not really have a thrilling effect. An exception was the placement of the choir which worked out way better most of the time. Especially during the dramatic big choir scenes the choreography of the choir achieved a great effect. Definitely the most interesting part of the production was the stage by Hans-Dieter Schaal. The plain and cold stage created a highly charged atmosphere and the easy changes of the stage simply made a good impression. The costumes by Marie-Luise Strandt were nice to look at mostly but did not have the same effect as the stage. In my opinion the costumes did not really tell anything about the characters and therefor they were not really crucial most of the time.
A real highlight of the performance was Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducting the performance. Not only does she look really elegant while conducting, she also gives an enormously professional impression. Her cues and her technique are totally clear and actually nice to look at. But not only technically she did a great job, but also musically. Her energetic conducting caused a highly explosive performance full of passion and intensity. The Mozarteumorchester Salzburg definitely lived up to its patron saint and played wonderfully. They sounded brilliant and gave a performance full of contrasts and balance at the same time. But not only the orchestra, also the Chor (und Extrachor) des Salzburger Landestheaters did a great job this time. The important choir parts of the opera were marvelous and showed that there is great potential within the choir. Let's hope that they will be able to keep that level.
The soloists of the evening gave a good impression most of the time. Franz Supper as Grand Sacerdote was reliable as always with his clear and focused tenor voice. He did not have much to sing but he sang his lines with great devotion.
Emilio Pons as Arbace stayed a bit pale through the evening. While having a beautiful light tenor voice he did not really convince with this role. Sometimes he simply did not seem totally appropriate for this very role.
As Elettra we heard Meredith Hoffmann-Thomson who has a very strong dramatic voice that sometimes has a tendency to sound edgy from time to time. She was able to convey the drama of her role very well and her first aria (Tutte nel cor) was really impressive. Unfortunately the probably most famous aria of the whole opera (D'Oreste, d'Ajace) was simply cut away (more about that later) and so she could not give us the dramatic finale we were waiting for.
In the role of Ilia Lavinia Bini sang with a full-bodied lyric voice that sometimes seemed already to full for this role. While her performance really did not have any flaw I just felt that Ilia should sound even lighter and have more lightness in the voice. I could imagine Bini as a wonderful Pamina, but Ilia is maybe already too light for her.
Probably the most amazing vocal performance of the evening was accomplished by Sophie Rennert as Idamante. I do not even know what to write because I simply cannot imagine this role to be sung any better. Her creamy balanced mezzo has a very warm lower register and a creamy bright upper register. Her voice is flexible, her diction was fine and her acting very commited. I can only say: BRAVA!
Finally the title role of Idomeneo was sung by Bernhard Berchtold who jumped in for Christoph Strehl who was not able to sing. However Strehl acted the role while Berchtold sang the role from the side of the stage. Berchtold did a solid job with the role. His light voice has a very bright and clear timbre, but could be a little bit more powerful. The performance was not exceptionally good but also not bad and everyone was simply thankful that he jumped in in such short time.
Before I give my rating I have to make the cut of Elettra's aria the subject of the discussion once again. I do not know who is responsible for this action, but I think it is a really severe intervention to cut this aria which really is one of the highlights of the score. After this I hope they will not cut the aria of the queen of the night next time they do Zauberflöte... you never know...
Alltogether I have to say (except of this terrible cut) the evening was very enjoyable and surprisingly well done.I have not heard such qualitative singing in a production of the Salzburger Landestheater for quite some time and I hope this is the first step into a better casting policy in the future. Therefor I am happy to give 8 stars.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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