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Der Rosenkavalier

BsorosenkavalierThe only reason I went to hear Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at the Bavarian State Opera was because Felicity Lott and Angelika Kirchschlager were singing. Good thing I didn't go to hear Walter Fink, for he fell ill and his part was sung by Artur Korn. I am not fond of R. Strauss, though I was surprised by his Ariadne. Der Rosenkavalier has some much more modern elements that I did not enjoy, such as grinding noise maker and wind chime sounds. Sometimes the music was high-flown and melodramatic, sometimes simply noise, sometimes charmingly waltzy with a hysterical edge.

The set was the most beautiful I have ever seen. It was as if they had stolen a couple of rooms out of the Wittelbach residences. The Rococo splendor of the first two acts was highly impressive. Act I was in the Feldmarschallin's bedroom, and the walls were covered with painted scenes, the room was all pale green, ivory, and gold, with beautiful carved doors in the center. The floor was covered with a light green carpet, with ivory flowers at the edges. Act II was in a receptional hall within the Faninal residence, and it was light blue, ivory, and gold, with all manner of elaborate cupids and garlands decorating the walls, which also had cabinets filled with porcelain. The center doors were glass, revealing a staircase in the background. The floor was painted to look like a yellowish marble. Act III looked like the set to La Boheme.

The costumes were just as beautiful as the set. The choreography was pretty good, Kirchschlager as a good presence and a clear boyishness perfect for Octavian. Lott moves elegantly as the Feldmarschallin. Korn played the unctous Baron quite well also. The worst choreography was when Octavian brings the rose to Sophie, he enters through the center doors, and she faces away from him toward the audience, face expectant, leaning forward with arms out as if ready to take flight. This was awkward and ugly. She also stamped her feet a lot.

As for the singing, Lott's clear, cold soprano was quite nice with Kirchschlager's warmer, mezzo tones. Bass Korn wasn't bad, but his timing seemed somewhat off. Soprano Heidi Grant Murphy made a good Sophie, her sweet voice sounds young, though almost a bratty whine at times. Her voice was a little quiet, especially in contrast to her maid's. Also, tenor Eduardo Villa was back in an opera playing a singer once again. We last saw him in Die Fledermaus as an opera singer. His voice is exceptionally pretty.

I should mention this production had two small dogs in it, in Act II, handled by one Manolito Mario Franz. They were very well behaved. Bravi!

Farfallone Amoroso

BsolenozzeLe nozze di Figaro at the Bayerische Staatsoper has been the best production of a Mozart opera I have seen to date there. Too bad two cellular phones rang during the performance. How difficult can it be to remember to turn a noisy electronic item while at a performance?

As soon as the curtain when up, one could tell this was a Dorn/Rose staging, since the scene change curtain was painted much in the manner of their curtain in Così. The stage consisted of one room with with white canvas walls and three doorways. In Act I the light blue doors were off their hinges, in Act II they were set right, in Act III there were dark blue doors, and in Act IV there were no doors. The furnishings were typical Rococo-style, and the floor was covered with various painted designs to look like carpet until the last act, when it was replaced by one large plain white sheet with two smaller sheets as furnishings. Dieter Dorn and Jürgen Rose returned to the silly device of having the singers hide under the sheets and crawl around under them. At least Figaro did not go through the wall as Guglielmo did in Così, though the former was illuminated through the canvas wall as he eavesdropped on Susanna's "Deh vieni."

The costumes were very much like what one always sees in Mozart operas, and were pretty. The only glaring error was perhaps putting Magdalena Kozená in knickers that were perhaps too close fitting, as she was to be the boy Cherubino, and has very adorable girl-thighs that were only exaggerated by the beige trousers.

The choreography was not too bad, the dance-like steps that were interspersed worked quite well. Amanda Roocroft was especially good with movement, she was a sassy Countess. However, they had trouble with Cherubino, making him too childish. Though in the scene when he escapes the Count, they have Cherubino jump into the orchestra pit, and this comes off very well.

Ivor Bolton's conducting was not impressive, one never feels that he has full control.

The singing was of high-caliber, it was too bad the prompter was over on the side and there were a few problems with synchronicity. Peter Mattei was an impressive Almaviva, his voice is very sweet. The Swedish baritone is of an imposing height, he must be 6'4''. On the other hand, the two British sopranos, Amanda Roocroft and Rosemary Joshua, cannot be much more than 5' tall each. They both have lovely voices, and nicely distinct from one another. Roocroft (Countess Almaviva) has a pretty voice that is slightly cold and thin but not too quiet, whereas Joshua (Susanna), whose voice is also pretty, is warmer in tone and more flexible. The latter was especially impressive and angelic in the aforementioned "Deh vieni." The bass John Relyea was a charming Figaro, but also quite tall, and thus looks somewhat silly in knee breeches. Relyea's voice was as impressive as it was in Cenerentola: warm, clear, good volume. His diction is also very precise, the accents are all neatly on the correct syllables. Magdalena Kozená is no Kirchschlager, but was an adequate Cherubino. Kozená's voice is like an angel's, but very light.