Austria Lortzing: Der Wildschütz: Chorus and Orchestra of the Volksoper Vienna, Alfred Eschwé (conductor), Volksoper Vienna, 15.10.2013 (JMI)
Co-production of the Volksoper Wien with Theater Chemnitz and Bundesstadt Bonn
Direction and sets: Dietrich Hilsdorf
Costumes: Renate Schmitzer
Count Von Eberbach: Daniel Ochoa
Countess Eberbach: Martina Mikelic
Baron Kronthal: Mirko Roschkowski
Baroness Friemann: Birgid Steinberger
Baculus: Andreas Daum
Gretchen: Anita Götz
Nanette: Dorottya Lang
Pankratius: Franz Suhrada
Albert Lortzing (1801-1851) is little known outside of German-speaking countries, but he enjoys great popularity here in Vienna. He owes his fame to two operas that have never ceased to be in the repertoire: Zar und Zimmermann (1837) and Der Wildschütz (1842). Suffice it to say that they have each been performed a few hundred times at the Volksoper.
Der Wildschütz is a Singspiel, a kind of light-comic opera, like a sitcom, with characters in disguise. It has to be taken as it comes because it is quite difficult to really believe what happens on stage. Here, the female protagonist, Countess Eberbach, first appears disguised as a young male student, and then reappears disguised as a young girl in order to enter the house of her own brother who will fail to recognize her. Spoken dialogue abounds; the music is entertaining provided one does not have to spend more than a few hours with it.
The best part of the performance was the stage direction by Dietrich Hilsdrorf, strongly backed by very attractive sets (they’re spectacular in the last two acts). It also features a well-rehearsed cast and quite nice costumes.
Alfred Eschwé’s musical direction gave strong support to the singers. The Volksoper Orchestra is not outstanding, but it was more than up to the demands of the music.
All in all, one is always guaranteed a remarkable staging at the Volksoper. The voices one hears are in general not exceptional, but sometimes one can be surprised by young singers at the start of their careers.
The most interesting voice in the entire cast was that of the young soprano Anita Götz, who sang the role of Gretchen, the orphan who is to marry the school teacher, Baculus. She has an attractive timbre, sings with gusto and was more than a mere soubrette.
Soprano Birgid Steinberger covered the part of Baroness Freimann, and she was well suited to the role. Mirko Roschkowski, a frequent singer at the Volksoper, gave life to Baron Kronthal, and he handled his pleasant light tenor voice very well. Baritone Daniel Ochoa was good as Count Eberbach, and contralto Martina Mikelic was amusing as the Countess. Andreas Daum made a fine Baculus.
The theater was at about 70% of capacity. The audience was a bit cool during the performance but offered a warm reception at the final bows.
José Mª. Irurzun