Saturday 30 May 2015

Christoph Willibald Gluck, Iphigenie en Tauride - Salzburger Pfingstfestspiele, Haus für Mozart

Performance 25th May

This year's staged opera performance of the Whitsun Festival was Gluck's second opera about the Iphigenie myth. Gluck, who is one of the most influencal opera reformers of history, wrote a piece with simple lines, great dramatic moments and without the usual artificial coloratura tornados.
But first to the production of Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier, which is also very simple and dark. The very reduced staging (Christian Fenouillat) and the fugitive-like costumes (Agostino Cavalca) also helped to create an atmosphere that is really depressing and unpleasant.
Diego Fasolis conducted the I Barocchisti so thrillingly and with such great dramatic feeling that it was a pleasure to listen to. There were great parts for everyone: ravishing moments of dramatic viruosity and also reduced moments of great simplicity.
Same for the choir (Coro della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano). Especially the priestesses did a great job supporting the soloists, but also the male choir had some really lovely moments.
Talking about the soloists: Rebeca Olvera appeared once again as a godess (this time as Diane) and really looked and sang like one! Totally covered in gold she looked like statue who has come to life. She had such a short appearance at the end of the opera that it was a pity that the opera was finished already!
Michael Kraus on the other hand was an example of brutality par excellance. His dark voice catched the evil character of Thoas perfectly and he gave a wonderful performance as cruel king. He truely seemed to be a exemplary selfish tyrant.
Topi Lehtipuu sang the role of Plyade and showed that he has a very gentle and noble sounding tenor voice with a very light timbre. I sometimes wished that he would give some more power, but his performance was good anyway.
Very impressing was Christopher Maltman as Oreste, which he performed with a great noble baritone voice. Even more impressing than his singing were his thrilling acting skills, which  really had a big effect in my opinion. I personally thought that he gave maybe the best performance of the whole opera.
And finally of course the title protagonist, Cecilia Bartoli as Iphigenie. Even though she looked horrible (which of course is a way of interpretation of her life in the foreign country) she was just magnificent. Both vocally and dramatically she totally soaked up the character and did not just play Iphigenie, she WAS Iphigenie. It was really heartbreaking to see how difficult it was for her to fulfill her cruel task, not knowing that the sacrifice is her brother.
In the end I would give the performance solid 8 stars.

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