Two Disparate Operas: Nothing in Common But Quality

11/06/2013

 Purcell: Dido and Aeneas, Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle:  Frankfurter Opern und Museumsorchester, Chor der Oper Frankfurt, Steven Sloane (conductor), Opernhaus Frankfurt, 8.6.2013 (JMI)

Production: Oper Frankfurt
Direction: Barrie Kosky (original)
Ute M. Engelhardt (revival)
Sets and costumes: Katrin Lea Tag
Lighting: Joachim Klein

Casts:
Dido and Aeneas
Dido: Sharon Carty
Aeneas: Sebastian Geyer
Belinda: Kateryna Kasper
Sorceress: Martin Wölfel
First Witch: Dmitry Egorov
Second Witch: Roland Schneider
Second Woman: Elizabeth Reiter
Spirit/Sailor: Peter Marsh

Bluebeard’s Castle
Bluebeard: Simon Bailey
Judit: Michaela Schuster

6-11-2013 6-21-21 PM

Dido and Aenaes :Frankfurt Oper
Photo (c) Monika Rittershaus

In recent years it has become more and more common to analyze double bills in terms of the consistency of the two works. I have never shared this interest because what really matters for me is whether the two operas are of high enough quality in and of themselves.

In Frankfurt we heard two operas that have nothing in common, not plot, nor style, nor time of composition, and their orchestral demands could not be more different. But, to quote Galileo, è pur si muove. The quality of both operas made it work out.

The double bill began with Henry Purcell’s opera which premiered in 1689. I confess that the more I see this opera, the more it is a surprise to me. Purcell is a true musical genius, and it is incredible that he could make such fresh music, so inspired and – why not – so modern for the 17th century.

The second opera was this masterpiece by Béla Bartók. It is not such a rarity anymore, and is appearing more and more frequently in the programs of our opera houses. There are good reasons for this. It is an opera that is not very expensive to cast, although it is very demanding for the orchestra. Its merit is unquestionable. Whoever hears it for the first time will never forget the impact of the music that Bartók wrote for the opening of the fifth door.

6-11-2013 6-26-57 PM

Frankfurt Oper: BlueBeards Castle (c) Monika Rittershaus

Barrie Kosky’s production placed Purcell’s opera in a narrow space at the front of the stage with only a long banquette as set. The costumes corresponded to the time of the opera’s composition and were attractive, in warm colors for the choir and black for Aeneas and the witches. Kosky did a great job of stage direction within this narrow space. The only part I did not like was having Queen Dido on stage sonorously crying after singing the wonderful “Dido’s Lament,” while the orchestra and chorus concluded the opera.

For the Bartók, Kosky offered a bare stage with a round platform, rotating and inclined, and black curtains: minimalism at its best. From the various “doors” came mute characters, dressed exactly like Bluebeard and Judith. There were no doors literally, but elements that referred to what Judith sees when the doors are open. Sometimes these elements were provided by extras, and other times they were taken from Bluebeard’s body. In the impressive sixth door, the lake of tears, the extras got a real shower with the water coming out from their own bodies. It was a beautiful and impressive scene. You cannot do more with less, and Mr. Kosky is a great director.

I enjoyed Steven Sloane’s conducting in both operas, but it was particularly shining in Bartók’s. His conducting was more delicate in Dido, which the excellent orchestra played on period instruments.

Irish mezzo soprano Sharon Carty was Queen Dido. She has an attractive voice, somewhat small in size, but she sang with gusto. She looks promising, although she is perhaps still somewhat immature for a character like this. Sebastian Geyer was well suited to Aeneas, but maybe a little coarse. Kateryna Kasper as Belinda has an appealing voice. The three Witches were very funny, especially countertenor Martin Wölfel.

Simon Bailey was a convincing Bluebeard on stage, but his middle range is too light for the character. Michaela Schuster was very good as Judith, with a convincing voice, powerful and musical.

José Mª. Irurzun

Comments

Comments are closed.

Recent Reviews

MW

Facebook-button-1

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2019-20 at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden __________________________________
  • NEW! Bregenz Festival 17 July – 18 August 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! Sergei Polunin and Friends at London Palladium 28 May – 1 June 2019 __________________________________
  • NEW! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! 2019 Elgar Festival in Worcester from 30 May to 2 June __________________________________
  • 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! Leeds Lieder Announces 2019 Art-Song Festival __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • NEW! Longborough Festival Opera’s 2019 Season __________________________________
  • 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! CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! YOUNG RUSSIAN PIANIST ALEXANDRA DOVGAN TALKS TO GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Chelsea Opera Group Perform Anton Rubinstein’s The Demon on 30 June __________________________________
  • NEW! When Music is Indistinguishable from Drama by Jack Buckley __________________________________
  • 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 __________________________________
  • PIANIST MARC-ANDRÉ HAMELIN IN CONVERSATION WITH GEOFFREY NEWMAN __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR ÁDÁM FISCHER IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ELENA MOȘUC IN CONVERSATION WITH CASEY CREEL __________________________________
  • MAESTRO RICCARDO FRIZZA IN CONVERSATION WITH MARGARIDA MOTA-BULL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • Search S&H

    Archives by Week

    Archives by Month