Tuesday 26 May 2015

Georg Friedrich Händel, Semele - Salzburger Pfingstfestspiele, Haus für Mozart

Performance 23rd May

As first of my concerts at this year's Whitsun Festival I saw the concert performance of Semele last saturday. A wonderful cast played with lovely acting skills and marvelous voices.
Diego Fasolis conducted the I Barocchisti charmingly with great softness and delicate phrasing. We even had the luxury of a theorbo which made the performance even more interesting. Fasolis and the orchestra supported the singers really well and did a great job performing this piece with enough thrilligness.
Peter Kálmán sang both Cadmos and Somnus and showed off his profound and powerfull voice with a very dark timbre. I wish he would have sung more, but anyway, he was a great casting choice.
Another small role was Athamas, who was sung by countertenor Andreas Scholl. Thank god he sang another aria in the end because otherwise it would have been a pity not to hear more of him. Even though I am not a fan of the sound of countertenors I have to admit that his timbre is so incredibly clear and beautiful that it is a pleasure to hear him sing this kind of music.
Rebeca Olvera as Iris was lovely to see and hear. Besides her beautiful light soprano voice she did a marvelous job acting together with Iuno. I personally thought the the beginning of the second act was a great highlight because of those two ladies. Olvera's soprano has a really delicate and delightful timbre.
As I said, Birgit Remmert as Iuno also was a pleasure to experience. In addition to her vocal skills (what a strong lower register!) she did the most marvelous acting of the whole evening. Her portrayal of the jealous godess was just magnificent. From one moment to the other she changed between the manipulative devil and the pseudo-friendly companion. She definitely was responsible for many of the funny moments of the evening.
Liliana Nikiteanu as Semele's sister Ino convinced with a strong lower register and a simply beautiful timbre throughout the performance. Only sometimes the transition between her registers could have been a little bit cleaner but anyway, she did a fine job.
American tenor Charles Workman sang Jupiter himself and was quite a surprise. I have never heard of him but he has a lovely gentle light tenor voice with a very soft timbre and great agility. Of course noone can compete with Bartoli when it comes to coloraturas, but I was really impressed by his skills and liked his performance very much.
And now to the dive herself: Cecilia Bartoli as Semele.What can I say. One might not like her and what she does, but there is no doubt that she does it incredibly well. The ease and evenness of her coloraturas are just not from this world and especially her pianissimi are just thrilling!! Her mirror aria ("Myself I shall adore") was definitely a highlight and earned her huge applaus.
The whole evening was crownd by standing ovations which I thought was quite understandable. I would give Semele 8 stars for a really great performance.

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