Simone Schneider, Klaus Florian Vogt and René Pape Shine in Staatsoper’s Fidelio

08/12/2018

GermanyGermany Beethoven, Fidelio: Staatsopernchor and Staatskapelle Berlin / Karl-Heinz Steffens (conductor), Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin, 7.12.2018. (JMI)

Fidelio © B. Uhlig

Production:

Director – Harry Kupfer
Sets – Hans Schavernoch
Costumes – Yan Tax
Lighting – Olaf Freese

Cast:

Fidelio – Simone Schneider
Florestan – Klaus Florian Vogt
Rocco – René Pape
Don Pizarro – Falk Struckmann
Marzelline – Mandy Fredrich
Don Fernando – Arttu Kataja
Jaquino – Florian Hoffmann

This production of Fidelio by director Harry Kupfer premiered in October 2016, replacing the well-known Stéphane Braunschweig staging that had been performed here since 1995. Kupfer employs one stage setting for most of the opera, which does not always make much sense dramatically. In Act I, the home of the jailor, Rocco, is a large, rather empty space with a big piano and a bust of Beethoven. The prisoners’ exit at the end of the first act is done as if they were simply a chorus leaving the stage.

The dungeon scene at the beginning of Act II uses the same setting, although the piano and the bust have been placed to one side. For the final scene, Kupfer moves the action to a concert hall where the protagonists, holding scores, are seated on chairs at the front of the stage. The costumes are modern and not particularly interesting, and the lighting is correct.

I did not find the reading by conductor Karl-Heinz Steffens, whom I was seeing for the first time, especially exciting. To begin with, he chose to play the Leonore Overture No.2. From then on, his conducting seemed appropriate and controlled but short on inspiration, which in this opera is especially important. It was just one more reading of Beethoven’s work, which makes me more eager than ever to hear the opera in Munich next month with Kirill Petrenko conducting. There were fine performances by the Staatskapelle Berlin and the Staatsopernchor.

Fidelio/Leonore was played by soprano Simone Schneider, who confirmed again the positive impression she made on me a couple of years ago as Sieglinde in Vienna. Her voice is engaging, and she is a noteworthy interpreter.

Tenor Klaus Florian Vogt in the role of Florestan was, as usual, a remarkable singer, although his voice is perhaps not the most appropriate for this character. Vogt is one of the best possible performers today in characters such as Lohengrin or Walther von Stolzing, but his voice does work as well for more dramatic characters, as is the case with Florestan. To his credit, he was able to cope perfectly with the difficult tessitura that Beethoven wrote for the part.

Bass René Pape in the part of Rocco was also excellent. He has a powerful, attractive voice and sang with authority. Marzelline was played by soprano Mandy Fredrich, who has an appealing, well-handled voice.

Falk Struckmann as Pizarro and Arttu Kataja in the role of Don Fernando were less convincing. The cast was completed by tenor Florian Hoffmann who did a good job as Jaquino.

The Staatsoper was again sold out, but the audience was not as enthusiastic at the final bows as they had been the previous evening.

José M. Irurzun

Comments

Leave a Reply

Recent Reviews

Season Previews

__________________________________
  • NEW! BBC Proms turns 125 years old – 17 July to 12 September 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Opera North in 2020-2021 – postponements and plans __________________________________
  • NEW! Tonhalle Orchestra Zurich 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Glyndebourne Festival Opera opens for a 2020 summer season __________________________________
  • NEW! Baritone Federico Longhi’s Rigoletto is part of Parma’s June Verdian renaissance __________________________________
  • NEW! 69th Wexford Festival Opera – 11 to 18 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! Dresden’s Semperoper reopens with Anna Netrebko on 19 June __________________________________
  • NEW! Berlin’s Pierre Boulez Saal in 2020-21 __________________________________
  • NEW! LMP’s first UK chamber orchestra performances since Covid-19 struck __________________________________
  • NEW! Oxford Lieder Festival – 10-17 October 2020 __________________________________
  • NEW! The Metropolitan Opera (2020–)2021 season update __________________________________
  • NEW! Royal Opera House announces first live concert since beginning of lockdown __________________________________
  • NEW! Semi-staged Das Rheingold on Deutsche Oper Berlin’s parking deck from 12 June __________________________________
  • NEW! A breath of fresh air: Opera Holland Park announces 2021 season __________________________________
  • NEW! Grange Park Opera’s 2020 Found Season – 4 June to 12 July __________________________________
  • UPDATED! 2020 Salzburg Festival – 1 to 30 August __________________________________
  • NEW! English Music Festival’s 2020 online series of concerts and talks __________________________________
  • The Singapore Symphony in 2020-2021 __________________________________
  • Musikfest Berlin 2020 __________________________________
  • Subscribe to Free Review Summary Newsletter

    Search S&H

    News and Featured Articles

    __________________________________
  • NEW! We’ll be back! The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra weathering the Covid-19 storm __________________________________
  • NEW! World Ballet School Day – inaugural edition 7 July 2020 __________________________________
  • UPDATED! Longborough Festival Opera launches podcast and extraordinary generosity of the audience __________________________________
  • NEW! The Music Critics Association of North America Best New Opera Award to Blue __________________________________
  • NEW! Lincoln Center honors Pride with a light installation on its iconic plaza __________________________________
  • R.I.P. Dame Vera Lynn (1917-2020): Did we really need Vera Lynn during the war? __________________________________
  • NEW! What price Sherlock Holmes? __________________________________
  • NEW! BBC to show the ROH’s first post-lockdown performance and their other recent music news __________________________________
  • NEW! Woody Allen comes back fighting with a book and A Rainy Day in New York __________________________________
  • NEW! Educating Rita, says who? __________________________________
  • NEW! 2020 Three Choirs Festival – postponed __________________________________
  • NEW! ACCOMPANIST OR PARTNER? PIANIST SUSIE ALLAN IN CONVERSATION WITH JOHN QUINN __________________________________
  • NEW! Need to escape reality? Enter into the magical world of composer David Hertzberg __________________________________
  • NEW! BTHVN2020 – Beethoven anniversary goes into overtime __________________________________
  • Archives by Week

    Archives by Month