Subscribe to
Opera Today

Receive articles and news via RSS feeds or email subscription.


facebook-icon.png


twitter_logo[1].gif



9780393088953.png

9780521746472.png

0810888688.gif

0810882728.gif

Recently in Reviews

Choral at Cadogan: The Tallis Scholars open a new season

As The Tallis Scholars processed onto the Cadogan Hall platform, for the opening concert of this season’s Choral at Cadogan series, there were some unfamiliar faces among its ten members - or faces familiar but more usually seen in other contexts.

Stars of Lyric Opera 2017, Millennium Park, Chicago

As a prelude to the 2017-18 season Lyric Opera of Chicago presented its annual concert, Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, during the last weekend. A number of those who performed in this event will be featured in roles during the coming season.

A Verlaine Songbook

Back in the LP days, if a singer wanted to show some sophistication, s/he sometimes put out an album of songs by famous composers set to the poems of one poet: for example, Phyllis Curtin’s much-admired 1964 disc of Debussy and Fauré songs to poems by Verlaine, with pianist Ryan Edwards (available now as a CD from VAI).

Die Zauberflöte at the ROH: radiant and eternal

Watching David McVicar’s 2003 production of Die Zauberflöte at the Royal Opera House - its sixth revival - for the third time, I was struck by how discerningly John MacFarlane’s sumptuous designs, further enhanced by Paule Constable’s superbly evocative lighting, communicate the dense and rich symbolism of Mozart’s Singspiel.

Fantasy in Philadelphia: The Wake World

Composer and librettist David Hertzberg’s magical mystery tour that is The Wake World opened to a cheering sold out audience that was clearly enraptured with its magnificent artistic achievement.

A Mysterious Lucia at Forest Lawn

On September 10, 2017, Pacific Opera Project (POP) presented Gaetano Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor in a beautiful outdoor setting at Forest Lawn. POP audiences enjoy casual seating with wine, water, and finger foods at each table. General and Artistic Director Josh Shaw greeted patrons in a “blood stained” white wedding suit. Since Lucia is a Scottish opera, it opened with an elegant bagpipe solo calling members of the audience to their seats.

This is Rattle: Blazing Berlioz at the Barbican Hall

Blazing Berlioz' The Damnation of Faust at the Barbican with Sir Simon Rattle, Bryan Hymel, Christopher Purves, Karen Cargill, Gabor Bretz, The London Symphony Orchestra and The London Symphony Chorus directed by Simon Halsey, Rattle's chorus master of choice for nearly 35 years. Towards the end, the Tiffin Boys' Choir, the Tiffin Girls' Choir and Tiffin Children's Choir (choirmaster James Day) filed into the darkened auditorium to sing The Apotheosis of Marguerite, their voices pure and angelic, their faces shining. An astonishingly theatrical touch, but absolutely right.

Moved Takes on Philadelphia Headlines

There‘s a powerful new force in the opera world and its name is O17.

Philly Flute’s Fast and Furious Frills

If you never thought opera could make your eyes cross with visual sensory over load, you never saw Opera Philadelphia’s razzle-dazzle The Magic Flute.

At War With Philadelphia

Enterprising Opera Philadelphia has included a couple of intriguing site-specific events in their O17 Festival line-up.

The Mozartists at the Wigmore Hall

Three years into their MOZART 250 project, Classical Opera have launched a new venture, The Mozartists, which is designed to allow the company to broaden its exploration of the concert and symphonic works of Mozart and his contemporaries.

Philadelphia: Putting On Great Opera Can Be Murder

Composer Kevin Puts and librettist Mark Campbell have gifted Opera Philadelphia (and by extension, the world) with a crackling and melodious new stage piece, Elizabeth Cree.

Mansfield Park at The Grange

In her 200th anniversary year, in the county of her birth and in which she spent much of her life, and two days after she became the first female writer to feature on a banknote - the new polymer £10 note - Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park made a timely appearance, in operatic form, at The Grange in Hampshire.

Elektra in San Francisco

Among the myriad of artistic innovation during the Kurt Herbert Adler era at San Francisco Opera was the expansion of the War Memorial Opera House pit. Thus there could be 100 players in the pit for this current edition of Strauss’ beloved opera, Elektra!

Mark Padmore on festivals, lieder and musical conversations

I have to confess, somewhat sheepishly, at the start of my conversation with Mark Padmore, that I had not previously been aware of the annual music festival held in the small Cotswolds town of Tetbury, which was founded in 2002 and to which Padmore will return later this month to perform a recital of lieder by Schubert and Schumann with pianist Till Fellner.

Turandot in San Francisco

Mega famous L.A. artist David Hockney is no stranger at San Francisco Opera. Of his six designs for opera only the Met’s Parade and Covent Garden’s Die Frau ohne Schatten have not found their way onto the War Memorial stage.

The School of Jealousy: Bampton Classical Opera bring Salieri to London

In addition to fond memories of previous beguiling productions, I had two specific reasons for eagerly anticipating this annual visit by Bampton Classical Opera to St John’s Smith Square. First, it offered the chance to enjoy again the tunefulness and wit of Salieri’s dramma giocoso, La scuola de’ gelosi (The School of Jealousy), which I’d seen the company perform so stylishly at Bampton in July.

Richard Jones' new La bohème opens ROH season

There was a decided nip in the air as I made my way to the opening night of the Royal Opera House’s 2017/18 season, eagerly anticipating the House’s first new production of La bohème for over forty years. But, inside the theatre in took just a few moments of magic for director Richard Jones and his designer, Stewart Laing, to convince me that I had left autumnal London far behind.

Giovanni Simon Mayr: Medea in Corinto

The Bavarian-born Johann Simon Mayr (1763–1845) trained and made his career in Italy and thus ended up calling himself Giovanni Simone Mayr, or simply G. S. Mayr. He is best known for having been composition teacher to Giuseppe Donizetti.

Robin Tritschler and Julius Drake open
Wigmore Hall's 2017/18 season

It must be a Director’s nightmare. After all the months of planning, co-ordinating and facilitating, you are approaching the opening night of a new concert season, at which one of the world’s leading baritones is due to perform, accompanied by a pianist who is one of the world’s leading chamber musicians. And, then, appendicitis strikes. You have 24 hours to find a replacement vocal soloist or else the expectant patrons will be disappointed.

OPERA TODAY ARCHIVES »

Reviews

28 Aug 2017

Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival

South African actor, artist, multimedia artist, film and theater, now opera director William Kentridge has taken the world by storm over the past few years. In my experience The Magic Flute in Brussels, The Return of Ulysses (puppets) in San Francisco, The Nose in Aix, Lulu at the Met, Die Winterreise and his “One Man Show” in Aix. And now Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival.

Wozzeck at the Salzburg Festival

A review by Michael Milenski

Above: Matthias Goerne as Wozzeck, Asmik Grigorian as Marie, dead [All photos copyright Salzberger Festspiele / Ruth Walz]

 

And there’s more recent stuff, much more, mostly multi channel video and sound installations around the world that I won’t see

All of Mr. Kentridge’s disciplines come into play in his opera productions, providing this prolific artist a rich palate of expressive tools. Though basically it’s abstract black lines, and silhouettes, symbolic images, and fragmented squares (still or moving images or playing areas) on a stage face plane that is his hyperbolic canvas. It is one dimensional.

Given Mr. Kentridge’s prestige he works with only the most prestigious, i.e. rich opera companies, thus his productions are supplied with first rank artists, conductors and orchestras, and the most expert technical assistance.

Wozzeck_Salzburg2.pngMatthias Goerne as Wozzeck, Jens Larsen as the Doktor

Of his operatic oeuvre, Wozzeck is his masterpiece, the precision of the opera’s focus, and the velocity of dénouement make quick and pointed use of his techniques. We had little time to tire of them, and given the subject matter they were not trite. It was an artistic success of image to music.

The program booklet informed us that Berg’s Wozzeck was born of the first world war, and composed in the shadows of its human devastation, thus the most powerful of the progression of projected images that captivated our interest (while Buchner’s tragedy unfolded below) was a huge WWI gas mask (not shown in photos).

This Wozzeck therefore did not dwell on the accumulation of the heady human tragedies of Wozzeck, Marie and the Child, but on the plethora of Kentridge images that flowed to the accompaniment of baritone Matthias Goerne’s smooth, art-song style delivery of Wozzeck’s deceptions and delirium. Mr. Goerne in fact was the surrogate William Kentridge in this production — Mr Kentridge himself is always a central feature in his stagings.

Wozzeck_Salzburg3.pngA super, the puppeteer and puppet of the child in gas mask

Of very great effect was the Child represented by a puppet, an image laden with metaphoric, if hackneyed possibilities. Though in addition to dehumanizing the human expressionism of Berg’s domestic tragedy the puppet troubled us greatly. Puppets don’t sing, so who was going to sing the “hop hops" of the final image?

No one did, they were played by mallets in the orchestra, the words projected on the supertitle screen.

The putrid physical and human atmospheres of Berg’s opera were smoothed over by the flow of images. This same flow obliterated the independence of scenes, the accumulation of which generally lead to the overwhelming effect of Marie’s murder, Wozzeck’s suicide and the Child’s isolation.

The Vienna Philharmonic in the pit of the medium sized Haus für Mozart theater brought an overwhelming presence to Berg’s score. But the vaunted orchestral signposts were obliterated by the incessant flow of images. Moments when you ached to sink into Berg’s abstract musico-dramatic world rushed by so quickly you only reacted to them after the fact. Was this the intention of conductor Vladimir Jurowski, or was he a victim of the production?

Michael Milenski


Cast and production information:

Matthias Goerne: Wozzeck; John Daszak: Drum Major; Mauro Peter: Andres; Gerhard Siegel: Captain; Jens Larsen: Doctor; 
Tobias Schabel: First Apprentice; Huw Montague Rendall: Second Apprentice; Heinz Göhrig: Madman; Asmik Grigorian: Marie
; Frances Pappas: Margret. Salzburger Festspiele und Theater Kinderchor; Concert Association of the Vienna State Opera Chorus ; 
Vienna Philharmonic; Angelika-Prokopp-Sommerakademie der Wiener Philharmoniker. Vladimir Jurowski: Conductor;
 William Kentridge: Director; Luc De Wit: Co-Director; Sabine Theunissen: Sets; Greta Goiris: Costumes; Catherine Meyburgh: Video Compositor & Editor; Urs Schönebaum: Lighting

. Haus für Mozart, Salzburg, August 24, 2017.

Send to a friend

Send a link to this article to a friend with an optional message.

Friend's Email Address: (required)

Your Email Address: (required)

Message (optional):