Sunday 30 November 2014

W. A. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte - Salzburger Landestheater

Performance 21st November

About one week ago I saw a performance of Mozart's Zauberflöte from the Salzburger Landestheater and since then I struggled what to write about it because I have never ever seen a worse performance before. What a pity! If you bring you bring Mozart's great work on stage in his hometown you definitely should get it right!
First of all problems was the production of the theatre's director Carl Phillip von Maldeghem which seemed like they just put everything on stage they had. And the idea of bringing the main protagonists on stage together with a puppet of themselves is just annoying. Especially because they always tried very hard to justify the use of those marionettes. The whole production was boring and lacked of ideas and imagination.
Another deficit was the musical interpretation (if you can call it like that) of conductor Stefan Müller and the Mozarteum Orchester. I don't know what the problem was but it sounded like they just played the notes like they would mean nothing at all. If I didn't know better I would have thought this was a rehearsal!! Again, what a pity that the Mozarteum Orchester itself obviously cannot perform Mozart properly.
Nevertheless, at least some of the singers did an acceptable job. The three ladies (Meredith Hoffmann-Thomson, Julia Stein & Tamara Güra) stood out quite positively and sang those lovely roles really well. The only problem with the ladies was that their dresses did a lot of noise, so here once again: thank you Mr. Maldeghem for not caring about that!!
Franz Supper as Monostatos was one of the few positive performances and did a really great job, both musically and theatrically. He did not have any problems to play well AND sing his difficult quick parts. Also his part as Erster Geharnischter was fine and satisfied my expectations.
Ugur Okay also performed two roles: Erster Priester and Zweiter Geharnischter. His voice seemed very strong but unfortunately his phrasing was really bad and made a cut-off impression many times. Also his diction which is very important in this opera was rather poor.
Rudolf Pscheidl, although I did not really hear him sing a lot, was one of the few highlights. He performed his role with a lovely bavarian accent and saved the evening with some funny moments.
The role of the speaker (Clemens Ansorg) also did a fine job but sometimes it also seemed a bit like he just spoke the words instead of performing a role.
When it comes to the three boys I guess noone would ever say something bad because you can't expect them to perform those role perfectly like adults (except they are professional child singers). One of those boys seemed to have gotten into this production not because of his singing but because of his name. I won't say more about that, but I think it was obvious that this was not a musical decision but a personal one!! Nevertheless, the other boys did a fine job and gave their best.
But now to the real disasters. The main antipodes, the queen of the night and Sarastro, were the main examples of bad casting this evening. The queen of the night, sung by Christina Rümann, is a very difficult role, everybody knows that, but what Ms. Rümann sang showed that she is definitely no queen of the night. Everything higher than a'' was surprisingly quite fine but everything below was a disaster. Her enormous vibrato and wobble are really annoying and totally inappropriate for this role. This is a classic example for singing in a wrong Fach and now I really question the responsible persons for the casting.
Alexey Birkus, who sang Sarastro, was not that bad, but still not appropriate for his role. He does not have enough power in the lower register which is maybe the most important one for Sarastro. The really deep notes were almost not hearable and you needed a lot of imagination. Also his diction was not satisfying at all.
Simon Schnorr sang Papageno and vocally did not have any bigger issues. Nevertheless I was a little bit disappointed of his acting. Papageno is a role where acting is way more important than the vocal quality. Schnorr however, seemed to be too focused on good singing than on acting out the role.
Ayse Senogul as Papagena was quite good and did a lovely job in her speaking parts as old lady. Although you could hear her accent she did quite a good job with her German. Both her singing and acting fitted perfectly to this lovely small role.
Tamino was sung by the swedish tenor (and new member of the ensemble) Kristofer Lundin. He has a nice tenor voice which did not have any serious issues with this part but nevertheless Tamino is not really his role. He seems to have a strong lyric dramatic tenor (jugendlicher Heldentenor) which is already a little too heavy for Tamino. But as I said, he did not have any big issues, just his diction was also a little bit shaky.
Finally the role of Pamina was sung by Laura Nicorescu and she did a good job. Although also her German had a big accent she convinced with her thouching musical interpretation and a lovely lyric soprano voice. Interetingly her diction during the singing was fine, just the spoken parts were a difficulty for her obviously. I really loved her timbre and the phrasing which really suited the role perfectly.
So in the end I can say that I was enormously disappointed of this evening, even though there were some good parts. I think it is a shame to perform with such a quality for the prices of the Landestheater. Some of the Mozarteum students could have done a better job than some of the singers at this evening.
The whole performance gets only 4 stars.

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Sunday 16 November 2014

W. A. Mozart, Requiem - St. Peters Kirche

Performance 9th November

Once again I had the chance to hear Mozart's Requiem (quite by chance) in a concert of St. Peter. The choir and the orchestra of the Stiftsmusik St. Peter (many instrumentalists from the Mozarteum orchestra, as far as I saw it) played very well and gave a delightful and exact performance. The sound was very appropriate for Mozart and really suited the whole work perfectly. Armin Kircher conducted very tasteful and was able to show every single detail of the beautiful score. The ensmble played very accentuated and exciting.
The soloist also were quite good and gave a great performance. Simon Schnorr, who performed the bass part, could have had a little bit more power in the lower register but generally did a fine job. Maybe he will achieve more profundity when he gets older, because for now the bass part seems to have parts that are too deep for his voice.
Gerhard Erlebach has a nice voice but unfortunately his tenor tends to make an uncontrolled impression from time to time. His phrasing is quite disastrous sometimes and some notes burst out like volcanos in the middle of a phrase!! If he had sung more controlled it would have been really great (for a tenor).
Magdalena Rüker was singing the alto part once again and was able to give a performance as steady as the last time (this time with a better ensemble). She sounded lovely and very tastefully once again.
Simone Vierlinger sang the soprano part and mastered it really well. Her voice suited the part perfectly with its beautiful phrases and the angel-like vocal lines. Vierlinger's voice has exactly that timbre and knew how to use it appropriately.
All in all it was a way better performance than the one I heard at Halloween although this time it was a free performance! I give the performance 8 stars.

Thursday 6 November 2014

Giuseppe Verdi, Rigoletto - Salzburger Landestheater

Performance 4th November

Quite spontaniously I had the chance to see the new production of Verdi's Rigoletto at the Salzburger Landestheater and I definitely have to say that it is a very good one. Amélie Niermeyer's production (stage: Alexander Müller-Elmau, costumes: Kirsten Dephoff) is not very creative and tries to shock with some quite pedophil scenes. Anyway the musical quality is way better and I would even say it is totally satisfying (which is quite a surprise from the Landestheater). Adrian Kelly conducted the Mozarteumorchester fine although the orchestra was too loud at some parts. Also some hearable mistakes (especially during the sinfonia) were a little bit annoying if you think of the Mozarteumorchester as a "professional" ensemble. Anyway the total impression was ok and the singers made it more than that.
Due to the fact that there are so many small roles that sometimes only have some sentences to say I will not talk about smaller roles than Monterone. Sorry to all roles like Marullo, Matteo or all other small roles, but I can't really say anything about such small appearances.
So Monterone, who also has a small but very important role, was sung by Einar Th. Gudmundsson. He might have a good voice but I missed the dark timbre which Monterone definitely should have. I would have casted someone whose voice is more profound and has a darker timbre.
Giovanna, a quite small role as well, was performed by Frances Pappas and did a fine job although her acting was more impressive (if you can call it impressive) than her vocal abilities.
Tamara Gura as Maddalena was more impressive with a very dark mezzosoprano, Her voice sounds quite strong and has a very beautiful tone. She also made a good impression in her sexy outfit and was able to deliver this sexiness also through her vocal performance.
Her brother Sparafucile was sung by Alexey Birkus who has a very dark and aggressive voice. It matched perfectly with his role and he also played very convincingly evil.
And now to the stars of the evening: Ivan Inverardi sang the title role and gave a great performance. His voice is dark and sounded very convincingly for this role. He portrayed the paranoid father very well and always had a fine balance between delicate singing and forte singing.
Rame Lahaj, who portrayed the role of Il Duca, also has a great voice with a very beautiful tone and a nice upper register (that is really important for this role). He sang with great ease and never showed a sign of exhaustion. Also his acting and his physique matched perfectly with his role and so his performance gave a very good overall impression.
The highlight of the performance was Eri Nakamura as Gilda. I already heard her in smaller roles in Munich but now she sang the main female role and blew me away. She has a very beautiful easygoing soprano voice with enough power and agility to perform the role of Gilda which sometimes has a very loud orchestra for a light soprano like hers. Nevertheless she never had any issues with being heard and also her upper register was powerful enough (without loosing her beautiful tone) to delight us.
So finally I can say that the three main protagonists were enormously good and I was able to enjoy the whole performance (which is not usual with the productions of the Landestheater). I award SalzburgS Rigoletto 7 stars.
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Monday 3 November 2014

Richard Strauss, Eine Alpensinfonie & Der Rosenkavalier - Gesprächskonzerte Stefan Mickisch, Prinzregententheater

Performances 1st & 2nd November

Last weekend I have been in Munich once again for the two concerts of Stefan Mickisch. The first one was about Strauss' Eine Alpensinfonie and the other one about Der Rosenkavalier. Both were very interesting and even I got many new things to know. Stefan Mickisch is just a genious, not just musically but in general. He creates links between subjects you would never think of when it comes to music but still they are there! His piano playing is incredible as well but the main thing about Mr. Mickisch is that he has this incomparable ability to explain connections and background information like noone else. Additional to that he also has a great sense of humor which makes the whole atmosphere more relaxed and comfortable. I totally enjoyed both performances and I can just suggest everyone to take th chance and visit one of his concerts. It is both, fun and educational!
Due to the fact that it was not real concerts I am not sure if I should rate them but I guess if I rated them I would give them 9 stars.

Saturday 1 November 2014

W. A. Mozart, Requiem - Kollegienkirche Salzburg, Kulturvereinigung Salzburg

Performance 31st Ocotber

For Halloween evening I decided to visit a concert of Mozart's Requiem organised by the Kulturvereinigung Salzburg. The orchestra and the choir were the amateur version of the Kulturvereinigung itself (Orchester der Salzburger Kulturvereinigung and the Mozartchor Salzburg) so my expectations were not as high as they would be normally. After two contemporary works with lyrics of Georg Trakl they finally started the Requiem. Due to the fact that they played in a church the sound was unclear many times but that's the place it was written for. Both, orchestra and choir were totally obviously amateurs. Little mistakes from time to time, unevenness and metric problems happened constantly. Actually it would have been even more important to play totally correctly and exactly because of the acustic setting in the church, but I guess the effect for an "amateur audience" would be same. Conductor Helmut Zeilner tried his best to keep everyone together and if you think of the fact that it is an amateur performance it worked out ok.
The solo soprano was sung by Gerhild Zeilner who obviously is teached by legend Gundula Janowitz. You yould clearly tell the influence after hearing her clean angel-like tone with a vibratoless timbre. Unfortunately her agility suffered from her focus on the beauty of the tone. Sometimes she seemed a bit stressed to keep up with the orchestra and the other singers with her lines.
The alto part was performed by Magdalena Ruecker who, as far as I heard it, had a very beautiful strong voice. I was always able to hear her, even in the ensemble scenes . The only thing that she could work on is a stronger focus on phrasing and quality of tone.
Virgil Hartinger sang the tenor part and was quite a disappointment. I have never been a fan of tenors but this was just too much. His voice sounded weak, uneven and uncontrolled. The beautiful tenor part of the requiem seemed to be a big issue for him and I was not able to enjoy those parts.
Rafael Fingerlos' bass (I guess he's more a baritone) did his job fine even though it was not something really impressive. He did not have big issues with the part but also did not surprise with excellency. Nevertheless I can imagine that he could get quite good if he's working on his performing style.
The whole performance gets 5 stars although I have to say that it was ok for an amateur performance. Of course it can not be compared with a performance of professionals, so I guess 5 stars is quite ok.
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Franz Schubert, Winterreise - Simon Keenlyside, Emanuel Ax

Performance 30th October

This thursday Schubert's Winterreise cycle was performed at the great hall of the Mozarteum. Simon Keenlyside sang together with Emanuel Ax on the piano. The Winterreise is a very dark and serious song cycle with many very touching songs. Keenlyside's interpretation was very interesting and showed many extraordinary details. His baritone voice has a very strong lower register and a surprisingly bright upper register. Very often he sang with his most upper register wich sometimes sounded a little bit unsecure and unsteady. He obviously was focused more on expression and persuasion than on the perfect tone. This might be risky, but totally worked out in his case. Moreover he was moving a lot and walking quite much. This gave a very restless and wandering impression which fits perfectly to the songs. I have not heard or seen the cycle being performed so vividly. The dynamic spectrum was huge. From the most delicate pianissimi to dramatic outbursts in songs like Muth or Der stürmische Morgen. I really enjoyed this evening although I am not really a big fan of Schubert songs. However, this performance was quite diverting and it could have gone on in my opinion. Keenlyside's Winterreise gets 7 stars.
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