Friday, June 29, 2012

WAGNER: LOHENGRIN (25.04.2012, Deutsche Oper Berlin)

Musikalische Leitung 
Bühne, Kostüme 
Heinrich der Vogler 
Elsa von Brabant 
Friedrich von Telramund 
Der Heerrufer des Königs 
1. Brabantische Edler 
2. Brabantischer Edler 
3. Brabantischer Edler 
4. Brabantischer Edler 
1. Edelknabe 
2. Edelknabe 
3. Edelknabe 
4. Edelknabe 

What if I told you that today you can get a double treat. First, you will be amazed by the a**-kicking production of the new LOHENGRIN by Deutsche Oper Berlin. Second, you'll learn why Klaus Florian Vogt is the next big thing in this industry.

That night, the show was sold out. So lucky to get the ticket in last minutes, anyway everyone was every excited to see this, especially to see Herr Vogt, performing a Wagner role, his tradmark ever since Baden-Baden Festspiel.

The prologue scene, as pictured above, delivers just the right mood. Stillness turns into a huge soundless mourn. When you saw such opening, you know the whole night's gonna be great.

One question during the first act: why the king has not quite dignity? I mean, he sang loud, but it seems he didn't want to be there. Strange.

Lohengrin comes down  to earth in "swan" form... Gigantic stage effect. The first time I heard Florian Vogt, I just thought about one word: charismatic. I think the role suits him very much. Bravo! Bravo! The end of the first act is just a classic epic. 

The second act: lasers and cross. Three green laser-pillars stand on stage as Ortrud sings her solo aria. Chilling. A giant cross-like structure was built to create an upper room on stage. Later it represents the castle.

No, it's not plasma screen. It's actually a gigantic poster, just the same as many backgrounds created for this production. During the break, a huge black fabric, with a white-stylized "Lohengrin" word written on it, covered the front of the stage. Nice feature...

The choir "sends" Lohengrin back to the sky and the story ends. Everybody went home more than just satisfied. The whole stage thing is beyond good and Florian Vogt rocked the night. I thought the 'Elsa' also did a very good job, but I personally just can't connect to her character, so...

Rating: 9/10

p.s. Klaus Florian Vogt's HELDEN in stores now.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

WAGNER: RIENZI (21.04.2012, Deutsche Oper Berlin)

RIENZI: Der Letzte der Tribunen

Musikalische Leitung 

Steffano Colonna 
Paolo Orsini 
Kardinal Orvieto 
Cecco del Vecchio 

If I should name one of the best productions from this season, it must be this: RIENZI. And I specifically use that word 'production' instead of 'opera' or 'play' purposely. Because it's the stage and the concept of the production that caught my attention. On the production notes, the concept of the production said to take a lot of inspiration from the 'mass psychology' from the people in *ehem* North Korea. Yes, Kim Jong-Il for the win! 
For those unfamiliar with the opera, Rienze's plot strongly circles on the title role, as we watch the rise and fall of a dictatorship post-war. Hint: it's Hitler's favorite opera of all time. Sudden change of mood,eh?

Anyway, first thing: the singing. Well, a few excellent arias were delivered by our 'Adriano' Daniela Sindram and of course 'Rienzi' Torsten Kerl. Loudest applause for both that night!! Cheers!

I know, there are no famous arias in this play, well, it's also because it's not on that A-list of 'operas-well-and-most-played'. But listening to the songs of power and dignity of the emperor, people on the crossing of politics, etc. is always interesting right? Warning: explosive political content and reminds you a lot of Germany post WW-I. Well, at least the production made us to.

To the execution: WOW. It's amazing, During the first part of the opera, the stage changed from Rienzi's office to the city in war imagery to the bright beginning of Rienzi's government. The second part begins with the telling losing people on war, sparks of the revolution and last Rienzi's fall due to people's revolution and fightback - captured and took him out of his bunker and shot him. 

Near the end of the first part, the marching scene of the people are quite grandios! With the use of giant screen, picturing Rienzi while giving speech, the scene is just an absolute picture of dictatorship on its glorious moments.

The second part especially, is a very interesting time for the staging. The stage was divided into upper stage (the city and the people) and the lower stage (Rienzi's bunker/hideout). The background of the city is a monitor, so yes, it used a lot of visual and video tech. 

During the last part, the whole choir and cast would freeze while Adriano and Irene singing their love arias with Adriano pursuing to take Irene away to safe place, and she refused to leave his brother, Rienzi and finally also get killed in the revolution. The stop-motion on the upper stage is just amazing!

Very interesting ride, the thrill, the tense! Perfect opera for beginners and curious ones! 

Rating: 9/10

PUCCINI: TOSCA (13.04.2012, Staatsoper im Schiller Theater)


Melodramma in three acts by Giacomo Puccini to a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica after Victorien Sardou´s play »La Tosca«.

Conductor: Leo Hussain
Director: Carl Riha 
Set design | Costume design: Wolfgang Bellach 

Floria Tosca: Amanda Echalaz
Mario Cavaradossi: Riccardo Massi
Scarpia: Andrzej Dobber 
Cesare Angelotti: Arttu Kataja 
Sacristan: Michael Kraus 
Spoletta: Paul O’Neill 
Sciarrone: Gyula Orendt 
Jailer: Alin Anca 
Shepherd boy: Mitglied des Kinderchors der Staatsoper Unter den Linden | Rowan Hellier

Well, well, well. Should I explain? 
When you talk about Tosca, it's always very hard not to compare the leading female in the role of Floria Tosca to the one and only, the divine Maria Callas. Yes, beside Norma, Tosca was also a very celebrated role of her during her peak times. So first of all, Amanda Echalaz as Tosca is doing fine. She's definitely not extraordinary, but she has the charisma to bring the character to the audience. The singing was quite amazing, even though there's also no 'wow' moment on the highlight arias of the opera. 
Somehow I think the Mario of the night is way better. On the final act of Tosca, when Mario read Scarpia's letter and realized his fate is coming to an end, you can tell: it's A-class acting. Love it like cherry on top! 

Actually there's nothing special about this production, but don't get me wrong. It's still worth watching from the second of third class seat. 

Admire the set, people. For it's just grandiose as any other Tosca productions. Hehehe... One more thing that I like, the atmosphere of the audience was very very relaxed, seemed to be ready to be entertained... Well, that's the first good sign of a night! And I also have the feeling, because it's TOSCA, people are gonna cheer anyway and go 'GASP!" when Tosca stabbed Scarpia. Classic move, yet classic means divine...

However, I enjoyed my night and recommend this production for beginners and 'my first time' Tosca audience. For the experts, wait for the next real thing.

Rating: 7/10