Anja Harteros is a Magnificent Arabella in the History of Opera

GermanyGermany Munich Opera Festival – Strauss, Arabella: Bayerisches Staatsorchester / Constantin Trinks (conductor), Munich Nationaltheater, Munich, 16.6.2018. (JMI)

Anja Harteros (Arabella) & Michael Volle (Mandryka) in Arabella © W. Hösl


Arabella – Anja Harteros
Mandryka – Michael Volle
Zdenka – Hanna-Elisabeth Müller
Matteo – Benjamin Bruns
Count Waldner – Kurt Rydl
Countess Adelaide – Doris Soffel
Fiakermilli – Gloria Rehm
Count Elemer – Dean Power
Count Dominik – Johannes Kammler
Count Lamoral – Torben Jürgens
Fortune Teller – Heike Grötzinger


Director – Andreas Dresen
Sets – Mathias Fischer-Dieskau
Costumes – Sabine Greunig
Lighting – Michael Bauer

This performance of Arabella was a great success, especially – but not only – due to Anja Harteros, who was accompanied by an outstanding Michael Volle. The Andreas Dresen production premiered here at the July 2015 Festival, and I had the opportunity to see and review it then. It’s an interesting and attractive work in general, as I wrote earlier: (review)

On this occasion, the musical direction was in the hands of Constantin Trinks, who is a frequent presence in Munich. He is a dependable conductor and drew an excellent performance from the Bayerisches Staatsorchester. But all the conductors that I see doing Arabella must compete with my memory of the prodigious leadership of Christian Thielemann in Dresden in November 2014, where the protagonist was also Anja Harteros.

The cast was almost the same as that featured at the production’s premiere three years ago. The only changes were in the roles of Mandryka and Matteo.

Anja Harteros was glorious from beginning to end. It is difficult to compare her to the other superb singers of this role over the years, but certainly she does not rank below any of the great ones. Indeed, she is an Arabella to be remembered. She did everything to perfection both vocally and on stage – her identification with the character is total. If I had to point out just one example, it would be her extraordinary scene with Zdenka in the first act. But then, one should add the scene with Mandryka in Act II; and the scene of confusion and misunderstanding in the final act where she demonstrated an immense dignity, besides being perfect for the role in vocal terms.

This time around, Mandryka was sung by baritone Michael Volle, and his performance was magnificent. Not only does he have a powerful voice, he sings extremely well and is able to make the character somewhat villainous. He is a terrific interpreter of the part, a worthy heir of Thomas Hampson who, for me, is the reference Mandryka in recent years.

Hanna-Elisabeth Müller returned as Zdenka, and she was as good as she had been three years ago. It is difficult to imagine a better interpreter. This young German soprano has an enviable future ahead of her.

In the character of Matteo, Benjamín Bruns did well in terms both of singing and acting. Veterans Doris Soffel and Kurt Rydl repeated as Countess Adelaide and Count Waldner, and both were impressive, while light soprano Gloria Rehm was well suited to the demands of Fiakermilli.

The three suitors were nicely covered by Dean Power (Count Elemer), Johannes Kammler (Count Dominik) and Torben Jürgens (Count Lamoral). And, finally, the Fortune Teller was again played by Heike Grötzinger, who is always a dependable professional.

José M. Irurzun

1 thought on “Anja Harteros is a Magnificent Arabella in the History of Opera”

  1. Thank You again, Mr. Irurzun, for this Intelligent and thoughtful review…would that more reviewers on these pages had your experience and insight.

    Ken Rowland


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