Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dmitri Shostakovich, Lady Macbeth of the Mtensk District - Salzburger Festspiele, Großes Festspielhaus

Performance 10th August

For my very last review on this blog I went to see a wonderful production of an opera that might not be known to everybody. Shostakovich wrote his Lady Macbeth when he was barely 25 and created an interesting highly explicit piece of musical porn. The music is a wild mix of different styles and very often I had the feeling that Puccini was a big influence, but on the other hand there are also wild and grotesque parts that show Shostakovich's crazy side. I was positively surprised by the piece and I have to say that is a very exciting opera that should be performed way more often.
The production by Andreas Kriegenburg is really impressive and shows an almost veristic approach. All the relations between the different characters were worked out so clearly that it was almost like watching a movie. Kriegenburg was able to keep the level of excitement very high throughout the evening. Only the final death of Katerina seemed a bit over the top and predictable. I especially liked the stage by Harald B. Thor with that huge working class residential buildings that created a thoroughly depressing atmosphere. The smart idea to have rooms coming out from those buildings worked very well and helped to deliver the story. The costumes by Tanja Hofmann also helped to support the plot and the different characters. Especially the great difference between the working class and Katerina (and her old family).
Musically there were no wishes to be left under the baton of Mariss Jansons. He knows the score perfectly well and conducted a more or less flawless performance with the Wiener Philharmoniker. That is why th several interludes were definitely some great musical highlight. Also the Konzertvereinigung Wiener Staatsopernchor gave a brilliant performance with great passion and lovely playfulness.
Most of the many small roles were cast very well and showed the high level of the performance. I especially want to mention Ksenia Dudnikova's dark soft mezzo / alto voice which suited her role very well. Also Stanislav Trofimov as Pope gave a wonderful performance with his drunk acting and a strong imperious voice.
Maxim Paster also convinced as absolutely drunk and wimpy Sinowi. I do not know if he did it on purpose but his tenor voice also gave a very unstable impression which suited the role very well. If this was part of his interpretation it really worked out.
As his father Boris we heard Dmitry Ulyanov who also gave a strong performance with a balanced powerful bass voice and an exciting interpretation. He made such a despicable impression that everyone would have killed him probably.
Tenor Brandon Jovanovich was an incredible Sergei with passion, power, a balanced voice and great acting. I can barely imagine the role to be sung any better and he definitely earned his applause for his highly laddish acting.
Due to the illness of Nina Stemme we had Evgenia Muraveva jumping in and singing the title role instead of the small role of Aksinya. I was really keen to hear Nina Stemme, but I have to say that Miss Muraveva probably did a better job with a beautiful strong soprano voice that is definitely more flexible than Stemme's voice. Muraveva gave a brilliant performance and really kept the excitement on a very high level throughout her performance. What a chance for this singer and maybe we will hear more of her in the future.
Alltogether it really was an exciting performance and another great success for the new director of the Salzburg festival. I would give 9 stars to Lady Macbeth in Salzburg.
Reviewed by Daniel Url

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