Monteverdi: L’Orfeo, Monteverdi Continuo Ensemble, Zürcher Sing-Akademie, Ivor Bolton (conductor), Prinzregententheater, Munich, 27.7.2014 (JMI)
Orfeo: Christian Gerhaher
Messagiera/Proserpina: Anna Bonitatibus
La Musica/Speranza: Angela Brower
Euridice: Anna Virovlansky
Caronte: Andrea Mastroni
Plutone: Andrew Harris
Apollo: Mauro Peter
Direction: David Bösch
Sets: Patrick Banwart
Costumes: Falko Herold
Lighting: Michael Bauer
This new production is by German director David Bosch, who has done some interesting works in Munich in recent years, among them L’Elisir d’Amore and Mozart’s Mitridate. The first part of the opera is imaginative and appealing, placing the action in the 1970s, and making Thrace’s shepherds a hippie community who enter the stage in a van to celebrate the wedding of two of its members, Orpheus and Euridice. There are a lot of floral decorations, confetti and alcohol, and the celebration is joyful, with musical performances by members of the community who use fake microphones and offer a lyre to Orpheus as a wedding gift.
The entrance of the Messagiera announcing the death of Euridice puts an end to the foral motifs, and the stage becomes a desolate landscape for both the Charon and Pluto scenes, which are much more traditional and faithful to the libretto. The costumes are fun in the first scene and more somber for the rest of the performance. The end of the opera is somewhat controversial as Orpheus is not driven by his father Apollo to the stars to meet Euridice; rather, the two meet in the final scene and descend together to their grave.
Ivor Bolton, the current music director of Madrid’s Teatro Real, showed great affinity with this score and gave a reading that was delicate and sensitive throughout. I confess that I have doubts about the possible outcome of his role in Madrid, where the program will be rather different. The orchestra was formed by the Monteverdi Continuo Ensemble, to which members of the Bayerische Staatsorchester were added. Their performance was very good, beginning with the spectacular fanfare calls minutes before the start of the performance. The choir of the Zürcher Sing-Akademie was excellent, both for its musicality and for the great individual performances of its members.
The main attraction was the presence of baritone Christian Gerhaher in the part of Orpheus. All opera lovers know that he is one of today’s best singers, and particularly a great Wolfram. There’s no question that his vocal performance here was flawless. However, I found that sometimes Mr. Gerhaher was out of sync as Orpheus, a character for whom I prefer a lighter, more delicate voice. It is not a question of singing quality but of style.
Mezzo soprano Anna Bonitatibus gave an impeccable performance in the characters of Messagiera and Proserpina. The announcement of the death of Euridice was full of emotion,as it should always be: few pages have been written that are so charged with feeling as these.As Proserpina she proved her versatility as well.
Mezzo soprano Angela Brower is an excellent singer and gave a strong performance as Music and Hope. Soprano Anna Virovlansky was fine as Euridice, who has not much to sing. Adrea Mastroni (Charon), Andrew Harris (Plutone) and Peter Mauro (Apollo) were all well-suited to their roles.
The Prinzregententheater, a copy of Bayreuth, was crowded, and there were numerous suche karte around. The audience gave a very warm reception to the artists, and especially to Christian Gerhaher.
José Mª Irurzun