June 13, 2003
Last Wednesday I was back at the Bavarian State Opera, seeing their production of Donizetti's Anna Bolena, this particular one having premiered 30. October 1995. The music was pretty enough, but the ending seemed anticlimactic musically, it did not finish well. Too weak somehow. Soprano Edita Gruberova is most beloved in Munich. Her voice can be ravishing, her pianissimo is perfect. But on the other hand, her voice is sometimes very shrill, it was especially at the end of Act I. That last note of hers was almost painful.
Ralf Weikert seemed to have control of the orchestra. Jonathan Miller's production was simple, the set had basically two modes, with a wall and without one. Too bad Peter J. Davison's sets took so long to get from one mode to another, the curtain came down for each scene, lights came on as well. The lights even came up after the overture, so they came up five times during the performance, far too many, it breaks the concentration. Clare Mitchell's costumes were perfect, just straight out of Holbein the Younger. Nils Christe was in charge of choreography, there wasn't much going on, Carmen Oprisanu as Jane Seymour (Giovanna Seymour) looked so uncomfortable, sometimes she just would stride in and it was just wrong.
Mezzo Carmen Oprisanu sang well though, very consistent, with lots of vibrato but very cold. Roberto Scandiuzzi as Henry VIII acted well, and sang well too, his voice being hearty but not pretty. Tenor Gregory Kunde was not bad, but his voice sounded constricted in his upper range, and he was less resonant compared to Gruberova. My favorite was Elena Cassian who sang the part of Smenton, a trouser role. Her voice was strong and she has good control.
There was a woman two rows in front of me who kept coughing and making strange vocalizations as she gasped for air. She also talked. Another audience member told her to shut up in German. She did not.