Die Gezeichneten

Die Gezeichneten at LA Opera

Stigmatized-la-opera * Notes *
Franz Schreker's Die Gezeichneten opened last night as part of LA Opera's Recovered Voices series. The music is rather voluptuous, yet oddly shimmery as well, and certainly is very beautiful. For the most part, the orchestra held together under James Conlon. The sound, while at times quite robust, did not overwhelm the principal singers. The brass had some blurry edges, particularly in an exposed moment near the end of the opera. The chorus, however, sounded lovely in the last act and entirely together.

Despite the obsurity of the opera, there were many familiar faces to be seen in this production. On stage were former Merolini Matthew Moore and Ben Wager, as well as former Adlers Kenneth Kellogg and Eugene Brancoveanu. Beau Gibson, who was in Salome and Otello this season in San Francisco, sang Menaldo very prettily. Another stand out in the smaller roles was Keith Jameson, who was deliciously evil has Pietro.

The three lead roles were sung admirably. Baritone Martin Gantner was a brazen Count Tamare, he swaggered and suited the part. His voice is strong, and has a nice warmth. The tenor, Robert Brubaker, had a fine debut as Alviano. His sound had a surprising heft to it, although he was not exceptionally loud. He was sympathetic, and he delivered the last lines of the opera with poignancy. Anja Kampe showed great flexibility as Carlotta, she acted convincingly and her voice is tremendous. Her duets with Brubaker in Act II and Gantner in Act III were both impressive.

Ian Judge's production was busy and cluttered, despite having rather little in the way of props. The projections, designed by Wendall K. Harrington, covered a scrim in front of the stage, the upstage background, and the raked floor. Perhaps my perspective was off, given that I was all the way at the top of the house, and I was not experiencing all these visuals in their appropriate context. At times I felt relieved that I could not see the upstage projections, as the ones I could see were dizzying enough. There were spectacular moments, but the rape scene near the end was brutal. One would have liked, perhaps, to have been warned about this beforehand. Unlike the rather tame and boring bacchanal from Tannhäuser a few years back, this "orgy," though appropriate to the circumstances of the plot, was intensely disturbing.

* Tattling * 
Balcony B had rows of empty seats, so it was not difficult to find a seat away from other audience members. However, both talking and snoring were heard during the performance.