A Colourful Combination – Erwartung and Hagith at Teatro Colón

31/07/2012

 Schoenerg, Erwartung and Szymanowski, Hagith: Soloists,Chorus and Orchestra of Teatro Colón. Conductor:Baldur Brönnimann, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires. 24.7.2012. (JSJ)

Erwartung

Director/set/lighting/costume: Pedro Pablo García Caffi

Cast:

Ella: Elena Nebera

Hagith

Director: Michal Znaniecki
Sets: Luigi Scoglio
Costumes: Michal Znaniecki, Joanna Medynska
Lighting: Bogumil Palewicz
Chorus: Peter Burian

Cast:

Old King: Hans Schöpflin
Young King: Enrique Folger
Hagith: Ewa Biegas
Priest: Aleksander Teliga
Doctor: Luciano Garay
Servant: Federico Moore

 

Pedro Pablo García Caffi’s setting of Erwartung (Photo Teatro Colón).

The Teatro Colón’s 20th century “tour de force” this season – which has included Golijov’s St Mark Passion (strictly 21st century as premiered in 2000) and Enescu’s Oedipe – has culminated with what are probably the least performed of them, at least one of them, Schoenberg’s Ewartung and Szymanowski’s Hagith.

Despite the proximity of their composition – Erwartung in 1909 and Hagith in 1913 (and both premiering in the 1920s) – these two works could hardly be more different, either in concept or musically, with perhaps the only common thread being “love”.

Erwartung is generally regarded as one of Schoenberg’s most important works and is in the form of a monologue (for a soprano) in four continuous scenes lasting about 30 minutes. Musically the work is atonal, with apparently no material once stated returning, and reflects the anguish and changing emotions of the woman, Ella, as she searches for her lover in a wood, first mistaking a tree trunk for a body then finding him dead before reflecting on what she should do with her life and then disappearing into the depth of the forest.

Hagith (Ewa Biegas) rejects the advances of the Old King (Hans Schöpflin) in
Michal Znaniecki’s production of Hagith (Photo Teatro Colón).

Hagith, on the other hand, is very much a story, being based on the Biblical story of David and Solomon in the first chapter of the first Book of Kings. The Old King is dying and only Hagith’s love will rejuvenate him, but she is in love with the Young King and refuses, resulting in the death of the Old King and she ordered stoned to death, with the Young King arriving too late to save her. Stylistically the work has been compared to Strauss’s Salome but at least for this reviewer it pointed more towards Debussy and Stravinsky, whose influences Szymanowski was to develop in later works.

The contrasts between these works were very apparent in these stagings – and coincidentally, both had character changes. Evelyn Herlitzius, due to debut at the Colón and as Ella in a staged production, was called away by the failing health of her mother just days before the opening, to be replaced by the experienced Russian soprano Elena Nebera, while in Hagith, local tenor Enrique Folger replaced German Christian Baumgärtel as the Young King.

Teatro Colón director general Pedro Pablo García Caffi took on the staging of Erwartung and with minimal abstract scenic elements created the sense of a dense forest in which it would be easy to get lost. In contrast Hagith was given a more traditional production by Polish producer Michal Znaniecki, appearing similar (if not identical) to his original 2006 Wroclaw Opera production (which is available on DVD).

Elena Nebera was a convincing Ella with remarkable fluidity, both of voice and in movement. In Hagith Ewa Biegas was outstanding as the protagonist, with German Hans Schöpflin a strong Old King and Folger equally so as the Young King, while Aleksander Teliga made for an imposing Priest and Luciano Garay a notable Doctor.

Baldur Brönnimann, whose last appearance at the Teatro Colón was with Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre, showed his skill with the complexity and colours of this music. As Erwartung is more commonly performed in concert, and as Hagith has been performed barely a handful of times, the chances of having the opportunity to see these works again especially in this combination is slight, making this in all likelihood a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Jonathan Spencer Jones

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • NEW! Roman River 2019 Festival __________________________________
  • NEW! Ex Cathedra’s 50th Anniversary Season in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Geneva Grand Théâtre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Musikfest Berlin 2019 from 30 August to 19 September __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 BBC Proms 19 July – 14 September __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Opera in 2019-2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Adrian Partington Introduces the 2019 Three Choirs Festival in Conversation with John Quinn __________________________________
  • NEW! ENB in 2019-2020 and Updates on their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Classical Music at the Barbican in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Review Summary Newsletter

    Reviews by Reviewer

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! CHORUS MASTER STEPHEN DOUGHTY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • NEW! MULTI-FACETED MUSICIAN JOY LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! ‘MUSICAL MAGIC’: AN INTERVIEW WITH VIOLINIST HENNING KRAGGERUD __________________________________
  • NEW! English National Ballet Announces Winners of Emerging Dancer 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! In August Fulham Opera’s Most Ambitious Project to Date – Die Meistersinger Von Nürnberg __________________________________
  • R.I.P. IN MEMORIAM ANDRÉ PREVIN (1929-2019) __________________________________
  • NEW! CHRISTOPHE ROUSSET IN CONVERSATION WITH COLIN CLARKE __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month