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Christian Thielemann sat down after the premiere of Wagner's operaThe Mastersingers ofNuremberg at the Semperoper emphatically in favor of Jens-Daniel Herzog's directorial concept, as this corresponded to his wish for an “unpolitical” reading of the play. The production came out at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2019, and the premiere in Dresden will follow on January 26, 2020.

The director presented a theater-on-the-theater variant rich in images, which repeatedly leads to confusion, because one cannot quite make out whether the individual processes are real action or belong to the staged play. Mathias Neidhardt repeated the portal of the Semper building on the stage - complete with proscenium boxes and red and gold theater curtain, behind which the second raised play area is located. At the beginning a coherent picture emerges when the congregation in historical costumes (Sibylle Gädeke) in a church interior with Gothic columns and carved Madonnas sing the chorale “Since the Savior came to you " agrees. Apparently it is a festive performance for an invited audience in today's clothes on two rows of chairs in front of the stage, which is then served with champagne and which is immediately dedicated to the smartphones. With the score (or the director's manual), Hans Sachs, who acts here as theater director, director and choirmaster, makes corrections, while the apprentices as stagehands in black gear do the conversions and arrange the seating for the singing court of the Mastersingers. Their portraits (“Our Mastersingers 2020”) hang above them as a photo bar. At the end of the first act you suddenly feel like you are in a completely different piece, because as if from a sloping one Midsummer Night's Dream-Performance, three monstrous, naked mythical creatures appear with angel wings, which show off their fat bulges with relish and fidget with their buttocks. Miss Piggy was probably the model there.

The second elevator begins in an office of the opera house with a monitor and the schedule poster on the wall, where Sachs is at his desk "Lilac"-Monologue sings. Above is the mask with dressing tables and wig cabinets, later the scene surprisingly changes to the theater's shoe workshop, where Sachs, who is apparently still a craftsman in addition to his management functions, accompanies Beckmesser's nocturnal serenade with soling Beckmesser's shoes. One floor up you can see the props room where Walther and Eva hide for their rendezvous. Again and again the revolving stage enables new scenes - for Beckmessers serenade a free space with little trees that are brutally torn out during the rough fight of the neighbors. David and Beckmesser also take part with vehement physical effort until a technical short circuit on the stage makes everything sink into darkness and the night watchman in police uniform announces the eleventh hour.

“The Mastersingers of Nuremberg” at the Semperoper Dresden / scene / photo as above Ludwig Olah

In this chaos of destroyed nature, Sachs agrees at the beginning of Act 3 "Madness"-Monolog on. Later in a rehearsal room, in conflict with his feelings for Eva, he vehemently throws books and shoes to the floor. In the meantime, under the guidance of David, the decoration for the festival meadow with illuminated garlands and flowering shrubs is being prepared. A girl in traditional Bavarian clothes balances a tray with glasses, beer crates are dragged in, and flowers and champagne bottles are handed over to the individual guilds. The Mastersingers in tuxedos sit in rows of chairs, Sachs even wears tails. After a successful lecture, Walther is to receive his photo as a prize, but he drops it carelessly. Saxony's words "Do not disparage the masters to me" are not an address to all citizens, but an intimate dialogue with Walther, as the theater curtain closes at the back and the two men are left alone. Walther is almost convinced of the shoemaker's message when Eva destroys her lover's photo and hurries off with him. Sachs is left alone with the empty frame and falls into a fit of laughter that every spectator in the hall can interpret for himself.

But there can be no divided opinion about the musical quality of the premiere. For Christian Thielemann, Wagner's opera is an affair of the heart. With the wonderfully musical Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, he fans out the multi-layered sounds of the composition in a fascinating way - from the festive overture, which he takes in a broad timeframe, to the last prelude in his TristanMood and the majestic finale. The strings of the orchestra conjure up enchanting tones, the winds create a sparkling shine. The Saxon State Opera Choir Dresden (mastered by Jan Hoffmann) grows beyond itself in the overwhelming "Wake up"-Choir, after it had already impressed in the solemn entrance scene and the robust beating joint.

After his role debut in Salzburg, Georg Zeppenfeld was enthusiastically celebrated for his Sachs in Dresden as well. With a potent high bass and almost inexhaustible power reserves, he got through the game to the end without any signs of fatigue, and also impressed with his exemplary articulation. The beauty of his voice came in "Lilac"-Monologue to special value, also the grandiose heightened "Delusion "-The monologue and the authoritarian closing speech were among the vocal highlights of the evening. His Sachs was a man in his prime and deeply human. Adrian Eröd created an impressive portrait of Beckmesser. He gives his very differentiated serenade in historical clothing with bloomers, doublet and beret. In spite of all the exaltation, the singer never distorts the character into a caricature and is even able to arouse sympathy for her. Klaus Florian Vogt is an international interpreter of Stolzing, who strangely appears in carpenter's clothes and also shows dubious behavior when he wipes his mouth on the theater curtain after a meal. Vogt's tenor has meanwhile gained in core and masculine tint. He completed the demanding award songs in a sovereign manner. The voice of Sebastian Kohlhepp, who gave an unusually masculine and sympathetic David far from any buffonesque template, has almost more colors "Master Tön" andPoint" respectfully coped with and also with delicate piani could wait. Camilla Nylund's Eva looked mature and at first sounded quite bitter, especially at high altitudes. At “O Sachs! My friend!" her soprano blossomed and led the quintet with an intimate tone. At her side, Christa Mayer was a resolute Magdalene with a strict mezzo. The ensemble of the Mastersingers was balanced, from which Vitalij Kowaljow stood out as Pogner with a sonorous bass of strong emphasis and Oliver Zwarg as an energetic Kothner. Alexander Kiechle sang the night watchman's two performances with a puffy, resounding bass. The audience agreed on the musical interpretation and cheered it enthusiastically, while the scenic interpretation received clear rejection. Bernd Hoppe

This entry was published on by Geerd Heinsen in music scene / festivals. Keywords: Die Meistersinger, Richard Wagner, Sächsische Staatsoper Dresden :.


Handel's Dramma permusica about empress Agrippina, who wants to make her son Nerone the successor to the supposedly deceased Emperor Claudio, was recently to be found on many stages and in several publications. For example, Naxos presented the recording from March 2016 from the Theater an der Wien, which recorded a production by Robert Carsen. At the Bavarian State Opera there was a new production by Barrie Kosky as part of the Munich Opera Festival in summer 2019, and Joyce DiDonato and Franco Fagioli recently toured Europe with it with sensational success. Well lays Eratopresented this event in a recording on three CDs, which was made in Dobbiaco in May 2019 (0190295336585). The line-up is spectacular and unites in almost all roles the currently leading international performers in the genre of baroque opera.

Joyce DiDonato sings the title role and with this interpretation marks a new standard in her already exceptional discography. She shapes the scheming character of the ruler with a fascinating wealth of colors and design nuances. The recitatives are exciting psychograms, filled with lively expression at every moment. Technically, too, the singer is above reproach. Already her first aria of lively style,"L’alma mia", shows the voice in its undisputed flexibility, so that the coloratura runs are perfect. The following aria, "Tu ben degno", on the other hand, is masterfully formed in its cunning and cunning. Lively and flirtatious jumps "Ho un non so che nel cor", while the fourth solo of the title heroine in Act 1, "Non ho cor che per amarti", presents itself as a serious token of favor for Poppea. Your greatest performance,"Pensieri", is placed in the 2nd act and is introduced and accompanied by the orchestra with harsh chords. The singer consciously uses howling tones and garish outbursts as an existential means of expression and in the B part increases into a furious furor. She ends the act brilliantly with the lively and rich trills "Ogni vento". As the title heroine, she deserves a solo at the end - the carried, gentle "Se vuoi pace ", which lets you hear that apparently all confusions have been resolved. Poppea and Ottone sing about their luck and in view of the happy outcome even Giunone descends from heaven and tunes the jubilant aria "V’accendano le tede" at. Marie-Nicole Lemieux delights with a pastose tone and brilliant runs.

Franco Fagioli is an exciting Nerone with a sensual countertenor. Already in his performance aria, “Col saggio tuoconsiglio ", he impresses with brilliant top notes and high virtuosity. He juggles the notes in brilliantly "Sotto il lauro" in the 2nd act. Also in the cantable “Quando invitala donna " he can score with flattering voice. At the beginning of the 3rd act he then has with "Coll’ardor del tuo bel core" a bravura number, which he approaches with furious attack and amazes with his vehement coloratura runs. With "Come nube" he can even surpass this impression - one tour de force of adventurous bravura with frenzied coloratura passages and seemingly unreal variations in da capo.

The empress had secured the support of her followers Pallante (Andrea Mastroni with authoritarian bass-baritone) and Narciso (Carlo Vistoli with high countertenor with a charming, lovely sound), both of whom are in love with her. Claudio's servant Lesbo (Biagio Pizzuti with a triumphant bass) announces the return of the emperor to the sound of trumpets. It was loyal Ottone who saved his life and was promised the successor to the throne. Erato's new counter trump, Jakub Józef Orlinski, sings it with enthusiasm and youthful sonority. He opens the second act with the moving aria "Coronato il crind’alloro ". He has fallen from grace but can prove his loyalty to Poppea. "Voi che udite il mio lamento" is a painful one Lamentthat the counter presents with a feeling of feeling. And with "Vaghe fonti " one of Handel's most beautiful inspirations falls to him - a short one Arioso in sicilianoManner - for which he finds distant sounds. Also "Purech’io ti stringa " Act 3 has an elegiac, plaintive character, for which Orlinski's voice is particularly suitable. Ottones love belongs to Poppea, who is also courted by Claudio and Nerone. Luca Pisaroni as emperor is not at the exceptional level of the rest of the cast with a larmy and sometimes puffy-sounding bass. "Cade il mondo" in the second act also reveals his deficits in the extreme depth. He succeeds best in the research "Basta che sol tu chieda " at the end of the 2nd act, which he approaches with energetic grasp.

Elsa Benoit sings Poppea with a seductively sounding soprano, the richly decorated performance aria "Vaghe pearl" completed it brilliantly with fine staccati. A little later she proves in"Fa’ quanto vuoi " resolute expression and brisk coloratura attack. She ends the first act with the moving aria "Se giunge un dispetto", in which the character's conflict is resolutely portrayed. On the other hand, she is moody "Ingannata una solvolta " and "Col peso del tuo amor". With"Bel piacere" in the third act she has another opportunity to bring her fine soprano to the best possible effect in a cultivated performance.

For Handel's composition, which includes many numbers from his earlier works (including oratorios, cantatas and motets), Maxim Emelyanchev at the podium of the Il Pomo d'Oro ensemble is the best possible lawyer. Already in the Sinfonia he provides exciting accents with solemn chords at the beginning and later in the feverish middle section. The Preludio in the second act is filled with dramatic tension, the ensuing choir framed by the blows of wind instruments "Di timpani e trombe" breathes pompous shine. In the end he can join the orchestra lieto fine still the six Balli differentiated and affect loaded to be heard.

The edition has two more numbers from Poppea in the appendix - the lively aria "Fa’ quanto vuoi " from the 1st act, which was canceled before the premiere, and her intimate love duet with Ottone, "No, no, ch’io non apprezzo" from the 3rd act. In the latter, the voices of Benoit and Orlinski come together in beautiful harmony. Bernd Hoppe

This post was published on by Geerd Heinsen in Opera. Keywords: Agrippina, Erato, Georg Friedrich Handel.


"VerdisDon Carlos is very bad [...] Don Carlos is a kind of compromise. No melody, no expression. It aims at style, but it just aims. […] It was a complete and outright flop. […] Verdi is no longer Italian; he would like to write like Wagner. That has neither hand nor foot. " Not only was Georges Bizet devastating in his criticism; Eduard Hanslick did not give a good hair to Verdi's Grand Opéra either, the premiere of which on March 11, 1867 was only a moderate success with audiences and critics. The composer himself also regarded this, his fourth Schiller opera, as his child of sorrows, which was subjected to multiple changes until it was further adapted in Italian translation until 1886 (Modena). Verdi approved four different versions, while musicology distinguishes no fewer than seven versions, which nowadays also appear on the stage in individual mixed forms(see also the exhaustive description in operalounge.de).

After the work was played on several large theaters last year (Antwerp, Stuttgart, Nuremberg, Paris), the Opéra Royal de Wallonie (ORW) in Liège decided to perform the five-act French original, which had previously been in the almost 200-year-old History of the Opera House has never been shown here, namely for the complete rehearsal from 1866, without the “Ballet de la Reine” in Act 3, which was only composed for the world premiere(even if it carries the story). Evidently they took to heart what Verdi had written in a letter to his friend Cesare De Sanctis in 1871: “It's a long opera, that's true. But it has to be like that. It's not about showing off voices, nor about giving time to show the legs of a ballerina. "Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, the host of the ORW, who worked as a director for the first time withDon Carlos In this production too, he remained true to his principle of presenting an opera as one of the three building blocks of his work at the ORW programmatically demands: “Respect for the intentions of the composer and librettist.” Around 400 magnificent costumes (Fernand Ruiz) the historical core of the plot (around 1560), and in times of the standardized stage design, not only the viewer interested in history can follow the stages of the plot with the help of seven different stage structures (Gary Mc Cann): With short breaks in renovation and skillful variable use We are three building elements, adequately supported by lighting effects in the predominantly gloomy ambience (Franco Marri), in the forest of Fontainebleau, in the monastery of Saint-Juste with a statue of Emperor Charles V, in the gardens of the queen (even with the one in the stage instructions of the libretto called rippling fountain), in Philip's study, are in Carlos' prison and are on guard Ate at the Autodafé, which saw a crazy crowd lining a street with a large square in Valladolid.The staging of this "undoubtedly best piece of the opera" (letter from Verdi to Giulio Ricordi) gave little indication of the cruelty and inhuman sensationalism of those times and was more reminiscent of a folk festival of a more harmless kind Höhe ”(Louise Foor quite powerfully from the off), which Verdi wanted to see understood as the comforting inner voice of the condemned, owed its dramatic effect. As for the rest, Mazzonis showed himself, as he did last atAnna Bolena, as an accomplished designer of historical scenes and tableaus and an empathetic, albeit cautious, personal director. It has also been a longstanding tradition that he repeatedly integrates residents of a dormitory for people with handicaps as extras (here fittingly as a guide for the libretto-like blind Grand Inquisitor) and that animals also appear - in this case four greyhounds as "contacts" for hidden feelings in Philipp and Elisabeth.

Verdi's “Don Carlos” at the Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège / Szene / Photo as well as above Opéra Royal de Wallonie in Liège

At the beginning of the evening of the premiere, Mazzonis stepped in front of the curtain in his role as “Directeur général et artistique”, a vanitas still life printed especially for this production by Gary Mc Cann based on a baroque model. He asked for indulgence for vocal restrictions due to illness in the singer of Elisabeth de Valois, Yolanda Auyanet. The soprano, whom I played for the first time in April last year as Alice in the Brussels production ofRobert le diable heard bumps in the sound production, especially in the deeper range, but under these circumstances offered a more than respectable performance, which was ostentatiously appreciated by her colleagues in the final applause. In the second screening the same problems reappeared towards the end of the first part, and so after the break we saw Leah Gordon, who lent Elizabeth her voice from a proscenium site - and that brilliantly. Until now, I only knew Kate Aldrich, who was visiting Liège for the first time, via the InternetLe prophète in Toulouse (2017). If she had positively surprised me there as Fidès, she was convincing in this high mezzo part even without a large vocal volume, a little less in thechanson you voile(Act 2) than in the more dramatic passages of Acts III and IV. Ildebrando D'Arcangelo, lastly the center of a gala concert in Liège, was a credible King Philippe II, especially in his emotional moments (duet with Rodrigue and of course in his moving self-analysis “Elle ne m'aime pas”). Another bass caliber is Roberto Scandiuzzi, who still demonstrated an impressively menacing vocal blackness as Le Grand Inquisitor. The political sacrifice he called for, in the form of the Marquis de Posa, was the only francophone singer in the protagonist sextet, and Lionel Lhote presented Rodrigue, a person who was infectious in every respect and, therefore, it was no coincidence that his Belgian compatriots were ahead in the ranking of the final applause on both occasions. Gregory Kunde, the singer in the title role, is and will remain a phenomenon: he has already seen several times in Liège (most recently as Pollione), his tenor is still crystal clear without any wobbling vibrato and still absolutely safe in the heights. Even if he's not a verdict par excellence his performance was brilliant, especially since the man in his mid-sixties also adequately fulfilled his role as a young man in terms of agility. Among the numerous well-cast supporting roles are the Thibault by Caroline de Mahieu, the tenor Maxime Melnik as Comte de Lerme / Un Héraut royal and Patrick Bolleire as “Un Moine”. This mysterious figure appeared already in the short prelude in its double role as monk-emperor and almost omnipresent assumed an unobtrusive observer position in central scenes of the events in monk's robe. At the end of the opera he became Charles V again, who himself had recognized the nothingness of this world, and withdrew like an ancient onedeus ex machina Don Carlos the state authority.

The ORW choir (rehearsed by Pierre Iodice) and orchestra offered, as always, a performance without blame or blame. The musical spirit rector Paolo Arrivabeni is considered to be Verdi affine, but some of the conducting of the former musical director of the ORW, especially in the chamber play-like Fontainebleau act, was a bit leisurely and only radiated the appropriate fire in the following acts.

"It's a long opera". How true: after 4 hours 35 minutes and only one break, theDon Carlos to the end, which I had not yet heard in this completeness. And even if shorter mixed versions will be heard again in future productions of this key work in Verdi's oeuvre, this “original version” was worth the long patience. The audience in the Liège Opera House, which is usually sold out, saw it that way and acclaimed loudly and fiercely (attended performances on January 30th and February 2nd, 2020).Walter Wiertz

This entry was published on by Geerd Heinsen in music scene / festivals. Keywords: Don Carlos, Giuseppe Verdi, Opéra Royal de la Wallonie.


Let's get out of the smell of the cramped 50s room. Away from the mother, who, standing naked in front of the mirror, rubbing her breasts with her gaze at her dead husband, and lolling on the sofa. The boy who noticed the scene is disgusted, goes angry at his mother, grabs his cuddly toy and storms out of the apartment. With Wolfram von Eschenbach, who Richard Wagner followed in his design for his last stage work, the fatherless boy chases after the brilliant knights and makes his way through with a bow and arrow. At the Strasbourg Opera, Amon Miyamoto's Parsifaltwo levels and sends the boy in his staging of Wagner's stage consecration festival on a path on which he meets his matured alter ego and penetrates together with him into the Grail world of Gurnemanz and the magic castle of Klingsor. Miyamoto tells Parsifal consequently as an early educational and development novel and twisted family history. Two years ago he was at the same house in his production of Mayuzumi's opera The golden pavilion given the first-person narrator a young alter ego in order to deepen the friendship and love bond, the teacher and novice relationship in the mysterious story of beauty and art that Mishima has prepared. While a Japanese-inspired symbolic sobriety dominated at the time, Miyamoto, who has emerged from musicals, drama and opera productions alike, floods the stage recently set up by Boris Kuclicka with images and associations, incorporating levels of interpretation that turn Wagner's even more puzzling work into a confusing rebus, too the audience of the co-producing Nikikai Opera in Tokyo.

Act 3 of the Strasburg “Parsifal” production / scene / photo as above Klara Beck

On the revolving stage, the two parsifals, the pubescent boy and the young man, stride through the halls of a museum and its "L 'Humanité" department, where the history of mankind through the stages of development from apes to humans, and through the room with the medieval crucifixion scenes, where they meet Gurnemanz and his disciples, who have emerged from an image of a saint. You get to the pathology room of the building, where the knights of the grail and the half-decayed Titurel, which comes from the “Body Worlds” exhibition, draw new strength from the blood of the drained Amfortas. And finally to Klingsor, the head of security in the monitoring center of the museum, where the boy witnessed the attacks to which his not entirely devoted mother is exposed. Miyamoto's staging, which remains relatively leisurely in the Grail World, shows its strengths in the second act, where the boy's relationship with his mother, who follows him as a museum supervisor and wants to force a kiss, is repeated in the seduction of Parsifal by Kundry. This turns out to be exciting, also because Thomas Blondelle proves himself to be a burning, almost recklessly spending Parsifal in his remarkably successful role debut, who pays more attention to the striking baritone force of his tenor than to the fine spy sounds of the Redeemer. Christiane Stotijn can play out Kundry's maternal, caring traits with the warm depth of her mezzo-soprano, which is more suitable for the concert podium, while the flat voice, the restless and sharpened tones and the short and glaringly targeted highs radiate little seduction.

Bartek Macias garnishes the museum visit with a video journey into space and a poetic look at the earth. Innocent nature breaks out of a picture in the form of a gently luring monkey. Parsifal follows him at the end of his educational journey, while the boy reconciles with his mother after he has found his father.

The musical reproduction should add equally strong impressions to the images. In the clearly dimensioned building, Marko Letonja struggled to get the work conceived for the acoustic conditions in Bayreuth to glow. In the external files, the robust and harsh sound of the Strasbourg Philharmonic and the brittle choirs from Dijon and Strasbourg exude little of the magic of the mixed sound that cast a spell over a generation of fin-de-siècle French composers. In the fascinating moments, a brisk, pragmatic urgency prevails, especially the clarity of the text and the presence of the voices that Letonja never covered: Ante Jerkunica's powerful, black hammered, somewhat boring Gurnemanz in the formlessness of the long narratives, Markus Marquardt's more intense, self-tormenting roughened Amfortas, Simon Baileys Klingsor with a seigneural hero baritone and Konstantin Gornys with a titurel with wise authority (January 29, 2020).Rolf Fath

This entry was published on by Geerd Heinsen in music scene / festivals. Keywords: Opera National du Rhin, Parsifal, Richard Wagner.


The Deutsche Oper is enriching its considerable Britten repertoire with a new production of the opera, which premiered in Aldeburgh in 1960 A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Donald Runnicles has a special affinity for the British composer, which was confirmed on the evening of January 29, 2020. The music in its filigree delicacy with the melodic islands, delicate webs and witty onomatopoeic effects found an ideal lawyer in the general music director of the house, who conjured up spherical, shimmering sounds with the orchestra of the Deutsche Oper Berlin and at the end saw himself enthusiastically celebrated by the audience.

Opinions are likely to differ about Ted Huffman's production. The director deals with the play, which oscillates between dream world and reality, on an empty stage (Marsha Ginsberg). This is particularly surprising for the beginning of the event in the forest near Athens, where King Oberon and his elf queen Tytania fell out in the fairy kingdom over custody of an orphan boy. Because here the audience expects fairytale magic and rich imagination from the production team. Instead, you see a minimalist "shadow world" (Huffman) in white, gray and black colors, because Annemarie Woods' costumes are also tinted in this way. The elves wear uniform clothing like in English boarding schools, the royal couple can hardly be distinguished from them. This look is undoubtedly captivating in its aesthetics, admittedly also monotonous in the long run in its monochrome layout. After all, the two couples Hermia / Lysander and Helena / Demetrius wear colored costumes in shades of brown - the two men wear army uniforms with caps, the women dresses in the fashion of the 1950s. In the third act at the court of Theseus and Hippolyta, the light gray of the room even gives way to a bright red that covers the floor and walls.

In Oberon's colorless and desolate world, the Scottish actor Jami Reid-Quarrell provides attractive deposits as a puck. Like a trapeze artist, he floats in the air, flips over several times and impresses with his dancing agility and stupendous body control - indeed a high-spirited goblin who causes serious confusions. James Hall's Oberon is also an event, because the countertenor with knee breeches and top hat sings the part sonorous and soft up to the exposed position. His androgynous Tytania with a mustache in men's clothing is the Australian soprano Siobhan Stagg, who beguiles with a gentle lyrical soprano and masters the virtuoso ornamentation of the role with ease. The exceptional level of the cast is also met by the two couples, whose emotional confusion is implemented in a three-dimensional manner. Only the tenor of Gideon Poppe as Lysander sounds a bit narrow, his Hermia is the American Karis Tucker with a mezzo-euphoria. The baritone of Samuel Dale Johnson sounds splendid and virile as Demetrius, his Helena is Jeanine De Bique with a richly timbred, luminous soprano. In the quartet at the beginning of the 3rd act with the meaningful words "Mine own, and not mine own " the four singers unite to a homogeneous song of beautiful fullness.

"A Midsummer Night’s Dream" at the Deutsche Oper Berlin / Szene / Photo as well as Bettina Stöß above

The craftsmen are wonderfully comical types, led by James Platt as the bottom with a full bass, who also proves to be firm in falsetto when telling about his strange dream. His nocturnal experience as a donkey with Tytania is staged like a variety show, because the elf queen takes off her gray suit and wears a black and silver corsage underneath, which gives her a seductive, lascivious look. For the performance of "Pyramus and Thisbe" On the occasion of the wedding of Theseus and Hippolyta, the craftsmen with Timothy Newton as Quince, Michael Kim as Flute, Patrick Guetti as Snug, Matthew Peña as Snout, Matthew Cossack as Starveling and Markus Kinch as Cobweb wear old-fashioned swimsuits, using two larger than life-size swimsuits for the story told Stick puppets and create duly comical effects. At the end of their performance they still complete the Bergomask Dance with sparkling vitality. Concern about the marriage of the earthly couple, because Theseus in uniform with a sash speaks abundantly to the alcohol and staggers around with the bottle. Padraic Rowan sings it with a smooth baritone of fine sound. Davia Bouley is a spoiled, exalted Hippolyta with an extravagant hairstyle and headdress. In the end, Oberon and Tytania are reconciled again, the scene turns back into the gray wasteland and Puck, floating down from above, addresses the last words to the audience - which does not save with applause for all participants.Bernd Hoppe

This entry was published on by Geerd Heinsen in music scene / festivals. Keywords: A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bejamin Britten, Deutsche Oper Berlin.


A bad star ruled over fateHansSwarowskyswho was able to train the most famous desk lions of his time, but unfortunately did not conduct himself. Not like his flamboyant students Mehta and Abbado, but average and gray like his appearance. Such is the reputation imposed by the German professional world, which at the same time also taught that Jean Sibelius could not compose. At least not as stunning as Boulez and Stockhausen. Now, do not straighten up thereßyou will not be judged.

Having said that, it is hardly surprising that the RIAS Berlin deleted the broadcast tape from January 21, 1963, which was the most grandiose performance of the 3rd Mahler Symphony contained, conducted by that man of modest reputation, played by the Berlin Radio Symphony Orchestra. At that time still Ferenc Fricsay's orchestra, shortly before his move to Maazel, who incidentally also left a grandiose Mahler III, well-kept at Sony, but not quite so bloody, so bloodcurdling. Swarowsky, on the other hand, had been keeping Furtwängler's conducting score since 1920, what a recording of his performance, but faded away, blown away, perdu like that RIAS tape.

Apparently Swarowsky was quite taken with his Berlin evening, especially with the extraordinary orchestral performance. Mahler III had only been recorded twice so far, in 1952 by SPA Records under Charles F. Adler (also terrific) with a cover text by Alma, and in 1962 by Bernstein con fuoco. For 14 years now, Swarowsky had endeavored in vain to bring those half-lost composers who, according to musicology, were not particularly talented, back home in Vienna after the Nazi deforestation. But Swarowsky would have liked to have guarded the tape that ingeniously realizes the document of the ingenious work, just like Furtwängler's score until the end of his days! It was his destiny. Of course, he was familiar with Adler's record with the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and, for a short time, his own orchestra, but it had to sound so completely different, less classicistic, like in January 1963: cosmic, like, according to Mahler, humans, nature, animals and all angels for him had told.

Could Swarowsky have asked RIAS for a copy of the tape? He was a faint-hearted, often humiliated man.We don't know, only that he didn't have one, and that the RIAS thought too little of the mediocre conductor with the mediocre piece to keep the tape. After all, he himself had deleted Fricsay's Beethoven cycle; was only in mono! And then the performance of a student Anton v. Archive Webern's, who taught him Mahler's own conducting bar for bar? It doesn't make this tapeworm symphony any better. Why hadn't the loyal noblemen Klemperer and Walter left a third party behind?

One should not blame the Nazis for recognizing Mahler alone. Grove’s Dictionary from 1944 says that apart from Symphony No. 9 and Song of the earth nothing survived. Ten years later, Hans Redlich took care of the 5thedition for the opposite information. What should the radio editor at the extinguishing head stick to? The fact that this longest of Mahler's monsters is hardly suitable for radio programs! The fury of disappearing would have swallowed a first-rate document from the heart chamber of the Mahler reception at the push of a button, had it not been for the extra-program (there is a brilliant article on Hans Swarowsky's dazzling life in the NZZ:The conductor who spied: Hans Swarowsky between Zurich and the “Third Reich” and one in the mirror:“We don't play without these Jews”; also the website of the Hans Swarowsky Academy Vienna)

The key figure of our anecdote surrounds darkness. No face, no address, apparently no employee, a nameless passer-by in musical life. He must have been of a stubborn nature and also owned an FM receiver and a tape recorder, designed for 18 cm reels and mono quarter track. The latter is a hideous patent, but it is economical: the same tape can be played on four times, but the width of a twisted thread per track. However, this is not enough to realize the golden idea of ​​recording the transmission. The piece lasts 94 minutes, i.e. you would have to turn, change or rewind the tape once; There is insufficient time for this in the pause in sentences.


Hans Swarowsky as head of the Philharmonic Orchestra Krakow / Archives of the Hans Swarowsky Academy Vienna

Because the stranger really wanted to own the symphony, he managed to contact a partner. His job was to save sentence 4 - 6, so press ’Start’ after min. 59:44! The company was easy to implement in tandem. Its author, however, who banned sentences 1 - 3 on his spool, would normally have disposed of both spools after the Mahler boom the previous one musicalcorrectness swept away, because Mahler hadn't composed as confusedly as he thought. This was discovered by one desk magician after another and everyone in the mid-1960s majorlabels at the same time, what a miracle. In view of the records that were soon rolling in stereo, quadro, metal mastering and digital, all brilliantly made, one could confidently litter the moderately reputable pioneer in quarter-track mono.

But it didn't happen that way, why not? Because the nameless man didn't put the bobbins in the bin, but in the mailbox. Why the junk took this route, namely to Hans Swarowsky in Vienna - all of this is secret! Did he know the tape amateurs, did he even initiate the plan? The latter hardly, otherwise passable equipment would have been found and everything would have been more profitable than it is.

As the coils slowly but not completely decomposed in the master’s apartment, they stayed in his private estate after 1975, the year he died, survived there unnoticed for a quarter of a century, and finally ended up in the archive of the recently founded Hans Swarowsky Academy, a noble London address with the very first names of the conducting trade on the council of supporters. The academy mainly manages the sound recordings of what Swarowsky, the fama according to, least of all, could conduct, in over a hundred documents. Maybe he could; after all, Messrs. Barenboim, Jansons, Dohnanyi, Abbado and Mehta were of this unorthodox view. Anyone can check it on the Academy's website. Trust your ears and don't let yourself be persuaded!

Hans Swarowsky conducts / Twitter / Archive of the Hans Swarowsky Academy Vienna

And now our story reaches its periphery: with Profile Haenssler A respectable label takes care of the missing person, a Mahler III from ’63 is an attractive bite in the 11 CD box. The renowned academy hands over the miraculously preserved relics to the restorer, Holger Siedler, from THS-Medien, Dormagen. The noble member is saved! But fate is not so gracious to Hans Swarowsky, his bad star does not let go of him.

When the sound technician Holger Siedler (as he said when asked) opens the stranger's message in a bottle and clamps his wobbly reels, the misery of the tape recorder comes over him. The great idea of ​​operating with two machines had a bloody flaw. Sentences 1 - 3, it is hard to believe, can resurrect in astonishing splendor. The listener is embraced by the first horn choir to the world epic of this symphony, played as if just invented! With a pounding heart he awaits the animated fourth movement with a vocal part: Oh man, be careful. The guillotine rushes: the concert hall, shown warmly, changes into the catacombs. A dull, echoing vault with faded, shaky sounds, Soňa Červená sings Woe speaks, go away’“, but it doesn't go away, not the last three movements, including the painful final adagio, now a double burial.

As Holger Siedler reports, people did not pay attention to the second device. He used cheap tape, his tape heads were apparently dirty, his receiver unstable. The restoration equalized, eliminated, wrapped Hall around it and, as we like to believe, did everything Profil Haenssler could pay for. So: What does deep midnight say? The matter is screwed up for the time being, because the space of experience that the piece piles up unfolds into heaven and hell, you can't get over it!

We have a fragment and a break, tragic as the history of music has so often proceeded: Mozart, Schubert, Bruckner, Berg. Because all pleasure wants eternity, sings Červená, but you don't get it, the desire. What will go into eternity is certainly the pleasure between minutes 1 and 59.

Hans Swarowsky 1972 / Wikipedia

The paths of the coils, like the paths of what is considered a musical quantity, were tortuous, unpredictable and also infinite. Who knows whether digital sorcerers / sound engineers will one day be able to extrapolate the information from reel 1 to the rudiments of reel 2? Oh please yes!

These ideal sound engineers of a distant future operate from the base material that the two anonymous tape owners have laid with the quarter-track recorders, these possessed! They claw the treasure with poor claws. You are the salt of the earth.


The conductor who came out of the dark. Isn't it amusing that big and huge labels are throwing voluminous boxes on the market everywhere, with the legacies of conductors such as Eugen Jochum, Rafael Kubelik, Charles Munch, Carl Schuricht, Joseph Keilberth, Günther Wand , Hans Rosbaud and others, where it is clearly written in the music feuilletons how uninformed these gentlemen were in terms of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Brahms? Thick string line-up, romantic pomp, no idea of ​​ornamentation and historical articulation.

Who buys this “stuff” when you can buy the correct readings of the rising stars X, Y, Z in abundance? Ludwig Van as he really was, not adulterated by the idols of unenlightened times! Profil Haenssler Verlag has given this “suspicious” group of people an astonishing series of old LP and radio recordings by Josef Krips, Rudolf Kempe, Hermann Abendroth and others. will be reissued, partly with little boxes that even old collectors do not have. If you are unlucky enough to be young, you can stock up everywhere and inexpensively. A new, widely acclaimed box with recordings that nobody knows or has guaranteed is Hans Swarowsky dedicated.

There is a large field of reputations that have been lost after a while, especially after the wearer has passed away. Out of fashion, shut down by the PR agency or record company! Who was Hans Schmidt-Isserstedt again? Or, as the bad word was called, "Karl Böhm was dead one day after he died". He is now alive again; with ‘Schmisserstedts‘ reappearance is to be expected. On the other hand, it hardly ever happens that a conductor who has worked as a routine conductor in the great music centers for 40 years, 45 years after his end, is recognized as a great century player. Don't believe a word of it, just listen to the Eroica and the two Haydn symphonies in said box.

The stories of the students (most of them already faded) of Swarowsky's score analyzes are legendary; but being able to break down a composition and make it sound are two different talents. The revelation of the Swarowsky sound documents consists in the fact that one perceives the classical-romantic symphonies and concerts not as an entertaining flow of time, but as a sound structure. Any element is a brick, column or strut. This is how this music is meant, it is written in every textbook, every conductor has learned it and wants to make it heard. And then come the "beautiful spots", the emotional heat, the dynamic increases, thumpand it drags you through the interpretive rollercoaster that hearing and seeing pass.

Swarowsky's genius ensures that the beautiful remains beautiful, the passions burn, the strength unfolds and yet nothing lingers in love with itself, nothing sweeps away on the autobahn, because everything is framed in the construction. It gives meaning, measure and aim. It is the all-dominating architectural sense that makes listening to Swarowsky conductors an incomparable experience. You are not lathered or carried away, but led at measured tempos through the side and main nave, altar and crypt, light and dark of what together makes up the cathedral.

Nowhere does it come into its own with such plasticity as in the Haydn symphonies 70 and 93. Anyone who is afraid of being bored by a stubborn didactic specialist is recommended to Schubert's Unfinished. It does not suffocate in personal Weltschmerz, but transfers it in a richly creative way in theme and variation. The Eroica, on the other hand, is a planetarium, severity, legality and the distance of the celestial course, like Tristan, “release me from the world” and also from Isolde!

The Wagner overtures are in the key of mau, they resound in 1950 ff. As if through a leaden grave slab. You have something behind you. Who else would have conducted that? Not a Furtwängler-like marcia funebre, but with hollow mutes in front of Siegfried's horn. Even the Viennese waltzes do not sound in the tidy New Year's liveliness that we are used to, village swallows from Franz-Joseph-Reich. Everything is no longer true, jolly, but just like at the funeral coffee. Happy music, sparkling swing and legendary Rubati originate from Brahms ’Hungarian dances; you have to be born in Budapest in 1899, Éljen A Magyar!

Where music becomes gestural, in Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto or Straussen's Till Eulenspiegel, the concept of playing deepens into the bliss of children. Like a flying swing and a bouncing ball, a pretty doll and a scurrying scooter, the pure delight of living sounds.

In order not to search further for words for all the wonders in this box: If you are drawn to size, to engraved handwriting, to completely fashion-free obstinacy, you have something to discover in it. Hans Swarowsky's legacy is extensive, although no representative label found it necessary to sign him during his lifetime. On the website of the Hans Swarowsky Academy there is a discography that is thanks to small companies and broadcasters. Profil Haenssler was strongly advised to have a continuation box. Most of what their historical series of old masters offers has already been there, the names as well as the recordings. An old master who has never really been there would finally be something new.Jörg Friedrich


Hans Swarowsky - The Conductor (Hänssler profile 11 CD PH18061) with works by: Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791), Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827), Franz Schubert (1797-1828), Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy (1809-1847), Gustav Mahler (1860-1911), Arnold Schönberg (1874-1951), Johannes Brahms (1833-1897), Richard Strauss (1864-1949), Richard Wagner (1813-1883), Johann Strauss II (1825-1899), Josef Strauss ( 1827-1870)
Participants: Friedrich Gulda, Ivry Gitlis, Sona Cervena, Vienna Academy Chamber Choir, Academy Chamber Orchestra Vienna, Cologne Radio Symphony Orchestra, Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Vienna State Opera, Radio Symphony Orchestra Berlin, Hans Swarowsky

This post was published on by Geerd Heinsen in Instrumentales, Portraits / Interviews, Wer war denn noch…. Keywords: Gustav Mahler, Hans Swarowsky, Hänssler Profil.


The winter in Schwetzingen - the Heidelberg Opera Baroque Festival in the rococo theater of neighboring Schwetzingen - is now dedicated to the neglected German sung Baroque opera after many excavations of Italian operas. The composer Georg Caspar Schürmann (1672 / 73-1751) was the successor of Reinhard Keizer at the Hamburg Gänsemarktoper (the first public opera house in Germany) and the predecessor of Carl Heinrich Graun in Braunschweig, where this AlcesteFirst performed in 1719. In 2016 there was a semi-staged performance including a CD recording (CPO) in Hamburg, in Schwetzingen this work has now been brilliantly accepted in the Rococo theater. The faithful Alceste enchants musically and singingly and is one of the most beautiful productions that winter in Schwetzingen had to offer so far.
The plot mixes mythology with new elements. Admetus (King of Thessaly) is dying. He killed Licomedes, who kidnapped Alceste, and was mortally wounded himself in the process. The grief of his fiancée Alceste softens the gods, Admetus is allowed to live when someone else dies for him. Alceste sacrifices himself out of love so that her husband can live. Admetus in turn instructs Hercules to bring Alceste back from the underworld. But nothing is free, Hercules is in love with Alceste himself and demands her for himself, Admetus agrees, he would rather see his beloved alive by someone else's side than dead in Hades. But the love of the brought back Alceste for Admetus ultimately softens Hercules, he renounces and takes care of one Lieto fine. At Schürmann, the story has been expanded to include new storylines, and more people have been added to the love carousel. Strato (an adviser to King Licomedes) loves Cephise (Alcestes confidante), Cephise has fallen in love with Hippolyte, who is only disguised as a man and is actually an Amazon who is in love with Hercules, who in turn desires Alceste.
Director Jan Eßinger concentrates on a calm plot around the baroque relationship carousel without over-psychologizations, he neither lays wrong tracks that lead into the void nor constructs absurd abysses, but tells the story in four coherent images. The stage and costumes by Benita Roth transport the mythical Greek royal drama in the first picture to the Greek coast of modern times, the plot begins as a social get-together on a summery white terrace with deck chairs and parasols against a blue sky. Licomedes kidnaps Alceste on the day of her planned wedding with Admetus, the nymph Thetis lets a musical storm rise. In the second picture the figures meet in the open air, a crooked tree and bushes form the scene of the sacrificial death. The third picture shows Pluto and Prosperine in the completely harmless underworld against autumn brown, Alceste has visions of their missed life. The liberation by Hercules is still unspectacular here and not further dramatized by the librettist, he comes with Charon in his boat and takes Alceste with him. Alceste's return in the fourth picture takes place on an empty, dark stage, a spotlight in the background shows the opening for the return, which then ends unadorned. The obligatory final jubilation is broken scenically, the mythical figures slowly disappear into the background. A beautiful and solid production that gives the opera space to breathe and work.

Schürmann's “Getreue Alceste” in Schwetzingen / Photo Susanne Reichardt

Only three of Schürmann's operas are said to have survived The faithful Alceste has been adapted, shortened and tightened for the Schwetzingen performance, the result is entertaining (about two hours of music) and suitable for the stage. Schürmann's music is melodic and imaginative and attractive to baroque friends, bassoon, oboe, two flutes, timpani and wind machine ensure a colorful and varied sound.The renowned lutenist and conductor Christina Pluhar leads the Philharmonic Orchestra Heidelberg, which is reinforced by baroque specialists (viola da gamba, theorbo / baroque guitar, harpsichord) and seems to become more familiar with baroque style of playing from year to year and sounds more idiomatic than a decade ago . Pluhar succeeds in creating a sound that comes close to an original sound ensemble. Her smooth and nuanced conduct is a strong factor in the success of this production. The libretto comes from Johann Ulrich von König, whose opera texts were also set to music by Telemann and Keizer and who was a well-known poet in his day. It is sung in German and subtitled in German, King’s language is still understandable today and is also presented in a text-understandable manner. In addition to arias, there are also duets and soloist choirs. The Belgian soprano Sophie Junker as Alceste is the star of this production. In 2010 she won the London Handel Competition in London, and in 2012 the Cesti Competition at the Innsbruck Festival of Early Music. Her warm, flexible and luminous voice is almost too big for the small, intimate rococo theater, she succeeds in the emotional eight-wheel drive full of intimacy and intensity. Admetus is on an equal footing with the young British countertenor Rupert Enticknap. His timbre is pleasantly soft, the highs are neither sharp nor hard, his complaints are not plaintive - a counter that you should hear about more often in the years to come. The French soprano Emmanuelle de Negri shines as Cephise, whose voice is also in good hands at more renowned baroque festivals. Hercules sings Ipča Ramanović with a robust baritone. Hyppolite Elisabeth Breuer, who loves him, contrasts with her youthful flair. The homogeneous ensemble is supplemented in the smaller roles by scholarship holders: four young singers who were selected from over 100 applicants from all German music academies. Lars Conrad as Strato courting Cephise as well as Charon and tenor Stefan Sbonnik in the double role as Licomedes and Admetus ‘Father Pheres have strong appearances. The Latvian Baiba Urka also sing in the triple role as Thetis / Pallas / Prosperin, Aline Quentin as Page Cleantes and bassist Maximilian Haschemi as Pluto. Vocal and musical, this production is very well cast. The Heidelberg Opera could achieve a coup if the German baroque operas played in the coming years can maintain the level of this remarkably beautiful Alceste (December 5, 2019). Marcus Budwitius


This post was published on by Geerd Heinsen in the forgotten opera, music scene / festivals. Keywords: The faithful Alceste, Georg Caspar Schürmann, Rokokotheater Schwetzingen.


He looks snappy in a flawless tailcoat with a cummerbund, his hands casually tucked into his trouser pockets, and he would be a gem for every champagne, no, of course champagne advertisement. Inside the booklet for his first recital you can see the Czech tenor