Monday 23 February 2015

Vincenzo Bellini, La Sonnambula - Salzburger Landestheater

Premiere performance 22nd February

Yesterday I attended the premiere of La Sonnambula at the Salzburger Landestheater which I was really looking forward to because it is one of my favorite Bellini operas. The production of Agnessa Nefjodov (costumes and staging: Eva Musil) was not too bad but also not really good. Many ideas did not really work out and they left a lot of questions unsolved in the end. Surely not one of the best productions of the Landestheater.
Conductor Lorenzo Coladonato conducted very tastefull with a sense for Bellini's neverending melodies and the not less important rhythmical accentuation. The Mozarteum Orchester also did a fine job without any issues and performed this lovely work very delicately. The choir (Chor des Salzburger Landestheater) also did a fine job and managed the several choir passages appropriately and nicely.
Min-Yong Kang as Notaro had just a very short appearance but did well in it. Also Ugur Okay was fine in the role of Allesio which could have been a little greater. In the role of Teresa, the mother, we heard Anna Maria Dur, who has a very strong wagnerproven mezzosoprano with a warm timbre. She portrayed the loving mother very nicely and did a great job with her performance.
Alexey Birkus as Il Conte Rodolfo sang also very well with noble tone. This role obviously fits his voice way better than the role of Sarastro! This time he really gave a spotless performance.
Someone I really liked was Hannah Bradbury as Lisa. She has a nice instrument with a very clear and strong upper register. Besides, she acted really greatly in this unfortunately very unsympathetic role. I really enjoyed her performance a lot.
Maybe the highlight of the evening was 27-year old tenor Pavel Kolgatin in the role of Elvino. What a lovely lyric tenor voice! But also his physical appearance was really nice and the female part of the audience surely would have loved to be his beloved. He gave a really great performance with clear and tastefull singing. A very impressing moment was the climax before Rodolfo's first appearance where Kolgatin held his final not (I think it was a A-flat) incredibly long. He finished almost together with the orchestra which really impressed me a lot.
I wish Lavinia Bini as Amina had impressed me like that. First I have to say that she mostly did a really good job with a angel-like voice, delicate pianissimi and a very strong stamina. Unfortunately she seems to be out of her comfort zone above the high c. Several times she had issues of intonation in her upper register and she skipped the optional high e-flats in her first cabaletta and the first act finale. The e-flat(s) in the finale aria also did not happen (even though she tried...). Moreover they cut half of her final aria "Ah non giunge" (I do not know if it was her decision, but it is just really stupid to cut the most famous aria of the whole aria). I really think that if you sing this role your e-flats should be there when needed (and those optional high notes are not really optional in my opinion). Singing Amina without her high e-flats is like singing Lucia without her high notes, just not appropriate. Nevertheless she did a great job except of that and that is why I would still give 7 stars to the performance.
✰- - 

Charles Gounod, Cinq-Mars - Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Prinzregententheater

Performance 25th January

Another time I had the pleasure to hear a lovely rarity performed by the Münchner Rundfunkorchester. Cinq-Mars is loosely based on the historic figure and is a lovely french link between the Grand opera and the later french opera. There are some nice tunes but I actually missed some really thrilling moments.
Nevertheless the orchestra played really well and conductor Ulf Schirmer was able to show many great details of the score. Also the choir (Chor des Bayerischen Rundfunks) was really great in its many scenes.Especially in french opera the choir is very important and they fulfilled any expectations.
But now for the singers: Wolfgang Klose appeared in the short role of De Brienne. His voice seemed a little bit out of control but it was not a big role anyway, so it was not a big problem. Matthias Ettmayr sang De Montrésor (and Eustache) and gave a more controlled impression. His performance might not have been exceptional but it was okay.
As the King of France (and the chancellor) we heard Jaques-Greg Williams whose voice was really noble and strong. His performance was worthy a King and even though he did not sing a lot I enjoyed every minute of it.
Andrew Lepri Meyer sang De Montmort (and the polish ambassador) and was quite lovely to listen to. His tenor voice was strong and brilliant with a beautiful tone. Especially in the tercett with De Brienne and De Montrésor he really stood out.
As the opera's villain, Pére Joseph, we heard Andrew Foster-Williams who kew how to portray this very evil antagonist. His voice combined both cruelty and superiority which made this character even less likeable. A really great performance!
Another deep voice was André Heyboer as Vicomte de Fontrailles. He had a really powerful voice with a very dark and rough timbre which fitted the character very well. His whole performance was very dramatic and showed off a really heroic voice.
Tassis Christoyannis performed the role of Cinq-Mars loyal friend De Thou. He also had a very strong bass voice even though it was way smoother and more lyric than De Fontrailles' voice. His voice combined both strength and beauty in a very impressive way.
The role of Ninon was sung by Marie Lenormand who showed us her lovely mezzosoprano with a very warm and erotic timbre. She was a nice diversification to all the men. And also Norma Nahoun as Marion filled the missing female roles with her sweet light soprano voice. Her coloraturas were fine and the timbre of her voice very light and delicate. Only her stamina could have been a little bit better but that is always the problem with lighter voice and big orchestras.
In the female main role, Marie, we had the pleasure to hear french soprano Véronique Gens. Her voice surely isn't one of the smoothest ones but I think it is very interesting. She sang the role with great superiority and very emotionally. The timbre of her voice is really interesting because it does not have a really beautiful timbre but she is able to express herself in a very impressive way through her instrument. You could hear every emotion just through the sound of her voice which to me seems to be a very special gift.
Finally the title role was sung by Mathias Vidal who jumped in for Charles Castronovo within less than two full days. Because of that and his really great singing he was everybody's favorite of the night. He did not show any doubts vocally and did a genuinely great job. His voice is was quite strong with a tendence to a heroic timbre and he sang his lines with great passion. I was really impressed that he was able to perform with such superiority even though he just knew abouth the concert two days in advance. Therefore, my greatest respect!
All in all I would give the performance solid 7 stars.
✰- -