San Sebastian’s Quincena Musical Opens with Fidelio and Stuart Skelton’s Superb Florestan

07/08/2017

lgog

SpainSpain Beethoven, Fidelio (concert performance): Orfeón Donostiarra, BBC Philharmonic / Juanjo Mena (conductor), Kursaal, San Sebastian, 4.8.2017. (JMI)

Cast:

Leonore – Ricarda Merbeth
Florestan – Stuart Skelton
Pizarro – Detlef Roth
Rocco – James Creswell
Marzelline – Louise Alder
Jaquino – Benjamin Hulett
Don Fernando – David Soar
Prisoners – Jesús García Aréjula and Eneko San Sebastián

The program for this year’s San Sebastian Quincena Musical includes two operas as well as Verdi’s Requiem. It opened with Fidelio, Beethoven’s only opera, and the result was generally positive.

Juanjo Mena, chief conductor of the BBC Philharmonic, led his orchestra in collaboration with Orfeón Donostiarra. A few days earlier, the same interpreters had performed Fidelio at the London BBC Proms (click here for review). I found his conducting uneven: the first part of the opera lacked energy and emotion, but the second half was much stronger. The BBC Philharmonic performed well; as for Orfeón Donostiarra, they were not at their best for the Prisoners Chorus but improved as the opera went on. The cast was the same as in London, and the singers performed without a score.

Leonore was interpreted by soprano Ricarda Merbeth, who is one of the most solid sopranos currently in the German repertoire. She is not an exceptional soprano, but her performances are always convincing. She was more comfortable in the high part of Leonore’s tessitura, but fell short on the lower notes.

The best performance of the evening came from Stuart Skelton in the part of Florestan, which is one of the most difficult scores ever written for tenor. Mr. Skelton was outstanding at the start Act II with a ‘Gott’ sung pianissimo that opened in a spectacular way in an endless note. He managed to solve the character’s very difficult tessitura.

As Pizarro, baritone Detlef Roth gave a lively performance, but his voice is not really suited to the part. This evil character requires a voice that is darker than Mr. Roth’s. Rocco was competently sung by James Creswell, who replaced Brindley Sherratt.

Marzelline was the young British soprano Louise Alder, and I was a little disappointed – I was expecting more from her. She is a good singer, but her voice isn’t particularly strong, and she had problems reaching the audience.

Benjamin Hulett was a correct Jaquino, but David Soar as Don Fernando fell somewhat short on both nobility and volume.

José M. Irurzun

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! Let’s Dance International Frontiers 2020 from 29 April to 16 May in Leicester __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Barbican __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera and more in Buenos Aires during 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Beethoven 250 at London’s Southbank Centre __________________________________
  • NEW! Saffron Hall in February – August 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Bampton Classical Opera in 2020 – Gluck’s Paris and Helen __________________________________
  • NEW! Surrey’s Grange Park Opera in 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Leeds Lieder Concert Series 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Edinburgh Usher Hall 2019-2020 Orchestral Season __________________________________
  • Lyric Opera of Chicago’s 2020 Ring Cycles __________________________________
  • 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! City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • NEW! Zurich Opera House in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! English National Opera in 2019-2020 and New Artistic Director __________________________________
  • UPDATED! ENB in 2019-2020 and Opening of their New London City Island Home __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Cleveland Orchestra in 2019-20 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW AND UPDATED! BEST OF 2019 FROM SOME OF OUR REVIEWERS __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR TOM HAMMOND IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • NEW! Ballet Icons Gala 2020 at the London Coliseum on 26 January __________________________________
  • NEW! CONDUCTOR HERVÉ NIQUET INTERVIEWED ABOUT GRÉTRY’S RICHARD, COEUR DE LION __________________________________
  • PIANIST JAMES LISNEY IN CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT BEATTIE __________________________________
  • SOPRANO ANGELA GHEORGHIU IN CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL COOKSON __________________________________
  • NOW REVIEWED! MATTHEW BOURNE’S ROMEO AND JULIET IN CINEMAS FROM 22 OCTOBER __________________________________
  • REVIEWED! Ron Howard’s Pavarotti in Cinemas 13 July (Preview) and Nationwide (15 July) __________________________________
  • CONDUCTOR THOMAS SANDERLING IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH GERMAN SOPRANO PETRA LANG __________________________________
  • HOW TO CONTACT SEEN AND HEARD INTERNATIONAL __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH ITALIAN BARITONE FRANCO VASSALLO __________________________________
  • A Q&A WITH LISETTE OROPESA AS SHE RETURNS TO LA OPERA FOR ORFEO ED EURIDICE __________________________________
  • THE PIANIST VALENTINA LISITSA IN CONVERSATION WITH GREGOR TASSIE __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month