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Coups de theatre « parterre field

Crucially, each of those productions have been buoyed by inimitable divas, bringing distinctive characterizations and stylish vocal stylings to those demanding roles.

Elza van den Heever made a placing position debut as Salome, demonstrating constant lyrical management and intense dramatic command all through.

In the meantime, Véronique Gens, a seasoned Gluck interpreter, gave an electrifying efficiency of one of many composer’s most complicated heroines.

I’m constantly floored by the flexibility of Elza van den Heever’s profession. Over the previous few years, I’ve seen or heard her sing Mozart, Berg, Handel, Beethoven, Wagner, and now Strauss. And all have been constantly high-quality performances – marked by a vocal sound that may be concurrently easy and searing and an unwavering musicality.

Her Salome appeared a tad extra reserved than her Mozart or Handel roles: I obtained the distinct sense that she was pacing herself in order to not tire out by the ultimate scene. Certainly, the voice that had sounded so giant in Rodelinda and Clemenza di Tito sounded positively minuscule in opposition to the large Straussian orchestra.

However van den Heever’s vocal warning paid off: she sounded remarkably fresh-voiced all through the efficiency, approaching every phrase with heat and vitality. Wilde’s Salome is meant to be a young person and van den Heever truly managed to seize the pep, the spunk, and the volatility of an adolescent coming to phrases with their violently blossoming sexuality.

Her “Es ist kein Laut” monologue was notably excellent: quiet, tender, lyrical, and nuanced – forgoing the hysterics that Strauss’s rating appears to demand. Van den Heever tended to keep away from heavy chest voice, giving the whole position a slightly ethereal high quality that paid dividends in a cool, luminous rendition of the ultimate scene (“Ah! Ich habe deinen Mund geküsst”).

Supporting van den Heever’s notably memorable efficiency have been two slightly excellent tenors. Tansel Akzeybek’s Narraboth was an sudden scene-stealer by dint of the clarion fantastic thing about his voice and the conviction of his portrayal.

In the meantime, John Daszak’s Herod eschewed the sneering vocal acridity that normally goes together with this Charaktertenor position, opting as an alternative for a smoother, sweeter, extra charming (and all of the extra harmful) tackle the Biblical king.

He made a beautiful counterpart to Karita Mattila’s campy Herodias, who strutted across the stage, full bosom on show, delivering every line with a raspy snarl.

Iain Paterson made a sturdy John the Baptist – and he definitely had potent chemistry with van den Heever’s Salome – however I usually felt that he obtained slightly misplaced within the mise-en-scène: his voice lacked the ability or the luster to make a memorable affect throughout his offstage singing.

Lydia Steier’s manufacturing has brought about one thing of a minor scandal in France. And for good cause. It’s objectively disgusting.

To recount its options could be like telling a very humorless rendition of “The Aristocrats”: all through the primary scene, half bare women and men are introduced as much as a banquet desk by guards armed with machine weapons, the place they’re raped and murdered by Herod and his company, earlier than their our bodies are became fertilizer;.

At one level, Salome masturbates over the nicely the place John the Baptist is imprisoned; the “Dance of the Seven Veils” begins with Herod having intercourse with Salome (his niece) and culminates in a violent fisting orgy during which the whole court docket descends on the bloodied Salome whereas numerous lackeys pleasure themselves; the opera ends with a maddened Salome rolling round on the ground as her blood mingles with John the Baptist’s.

I naturally discovered the staging to be slightly tasteless. Nevertheless, after I had completed clutching my pearls, I ended up slightly having fun with the manufacturing. I appreciated the intentionality of the director’s imaginative and prescient and the precision of its execution.

There was completely nothing half-arsed about this manufacturing. It made three unequivocal factors and it made them forcefully: 1) that the world that Salome lives in is a violent hellscape; 2) that Salome topics herself to this violence, sacrificing each ounce of her human dignity with a purpose to get the top of John the Baptist; 3) that Salome is pushed insane by the violence she endures, unable to completely benefit from the fruit of her efforts (certainly, in Steier’s manufacturing, the top of John the Baptist is taken from the semi-catatonic Salome earlier than the ultimate scene, and she or he is pressured to think about a tryst between her and the prophet as she writhes helplessly on the bottom).

I want extra opera administrators took a leaf out of Steier’s e-book and truly have the center to really say one thing daring concerning the work that they’re directing – even when the ultimate product is considerably unsavory.

It helps that Steier’s manufacturing is stuffed with eye-catching dramatic particulars that lend to the coherence and veracity of her theatrical imaginative and prescient (for instance, Herodias is having an affair with one of many palace guards and steals Herod’s ring to present it to him, explaining why Herod sings the road “Wer hat meinen Ring genommen?”). It’s also slightly gorgeous to take a look at: the set and costumes (by Momme Hinrichs and Andy Besuch) have a glossy, cinematic really feel to them to match the manufacturing’s Tarantino-levels of blood and gore.

The violence of Steier’s manufacturing was excellently matched by Simone Younger’s conducting, which was appropriately terse and brutish with out sacrificing the latent romanticism of Strauss’s rating.

If van den Heever’s Salome was particularly unstable, Véronique Gens’s Armide was slightly cool and dignified. Quinault’s libretto is all however written from the angle of the vengeful sorceress and is ripe for a sympathetic portrayal.

Gens delivered simply that on opening evening: an Armide struggling within the murky ethical panorama of a brutal conflict – a sufferer of her personal compassion, determined to search out emotional equilibrium in a time of ferocious battle.

Vocally, Gens was in wonderful kind, exhibiting a vibrant, even, rounded tone all through her vary. She very neatly balanced the readability and cleanliness of a baroque specialist with the type of heavy, dramatic vocalization that Gluck calls for.

I really feel like there may be an artwork to singing Gluck: as a reformist, he so usually defies the conventions of “aria” and “recitative” in favor of extra nebulous “monologue” types, and I usually really feel that many singers miscalculate the quantity of vocal weight to lend to those numerous interflowing sections.

Nevertheless, Gens by no means gave an excessive amount of or too little. This was notably evident in her rendition of Armide’s well-known monologue, “Enfin il est en ma puissance,” during which she deftly navigated Gluck’s mercurial shifts between arioso and outright recitativo types whereas sustaining a laser-sharp dramatic focus.

The position of Renaud was taken by Dr Ian Bostridge CBE – a singer not normally identified for his French baroque repertoire. Certainly, Bostridge appeared like an uncommon selection for this position and his voice sounded a tad heavier and throatier than your common haute-contre.

Bostridge’s slightly strong tackle Renaud was often problematic: his Act II arias had a shouty high quality to them that felt slightly ham alongside Gluck’s militaristic scoring, and he usually overpowered Gens in his Act V duets with Gens.

Nevertheless, on the entire, I slightly appreciated the drive and depth of Bostridge’s portrayal, which felt very a lot in step with the unyielding heroism of Renaud’s character. With a barely gentler vocal styling, these Gluck haute-contre roles may make a welcome addition to Bostridge’s repertoire.

My favourite efficiency of the night got here from Anaïk Morel, enjoying the position of the demon Hate. Her hollering, cackling interpretation was backed up by a velveteen voice and an arresting stage presence. The sweet-voiced Edwin Crossley-Mercer, within the position of Hidraot, was one other standout, as a lot for his dulcet higher register as his elegant phrasing.

On the baton was Christophe Rousset, one other Gluck veteran, who led the interval orchestra Les talens lyriques by an outstanding rendition of the composer’s rating.

Rousset lent into the grit and the sting of the eighteenth-century orchestral sound: each forte was harsh and crunch; each piano was silky and whispered. He saved the tempi swift and punchy, besides when the drama demanded in any other case (for instance, he slowed the orchestra proper down through the dreamy pastoral sequence during which Renaud falls asleep).

The efficiency was solely let down by Lilo Baur’s tedious manufacturing. Baur (who might be finest identified to English audiences because the Austrian pharmacist within the second Bridget Jones movie) supplied an infinite carousel of hackneyed, drained, and poorly conceived theatrical tropes that added little to Gluck’s opera.

The final fashion of the manufacturing could possibly be described as a cross between The Decameron, The Wicker Man, The Labyrinth, and The Ring – if all of those have been staged beneath a tree in a Mattress, Bathtub, and Past car parking zone by an experimental school theater troupe.

It was virtually as if the director felt the necessity to put a distinct theatrical “tic” into every scene: in a single scene the refrain are rolling round on the ground; in one other, somebody’s doing an interpretive dance; in one other, somebody is being draped in material; in one other, everyone seems to be operating round in circles doing twirls.

One in all these theatrical gimmicks may need labored as a set piece, however piled on high of one another, and together with the random hodgepodge of costumery, it simply felt amateurish – as if Baur nonetheless hasn’t learnt to “kill her darlings.”

It was all too busy. And for what? None of this theatrical glut contributed something to our understanding of the story. Not the Wicker Man go well with, nor the hideous dancing scarecrow individuals. By some means, all of it felt extra gratuitous than Steier’s bloodstained Salome.

Invariably, the manufacturing merely distracted from the musical excellence of the efficiency. Throughout Armide’s monologue, Baur featured three interpretive dancers (sporting weird tunics) who mirrored the sorceress’s each transfer. This type of clownery could also be applicable for a vaudeville rendition of “Me and My Shadow,” but it surely simply detracted from Gens’s singing on this occasion.



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