Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Fidelio

Sunday afternoon was Marc Minkowski's first performance of Fidelio, Beethoven's Singspiel that completely transcends Singspiel. I grew up on Boehm and found his tempos a bit fast, especially the "O welche Lust" chorus toward the end of Act I. The effect of a slow rendition is profound.

Perhaps he's the one coaching people to sing sotto voce, an effect I don't particularly care for. A fast tempo and singers you can hardly hear don't make the four part canon work for me. Matti Salminen ignored this and boomed right in. He is a great Rocco, old and bumbling but not buffo.

The pit at the Zurich Opera is not very deep, so when the singers are sotto voce, they are completely overbalanced by the orchestra. In my humble opinion. There were no Leonora overtures and nobody missed them. Perhaps this tradition has died. Good riddance.

I have bitched about Minkowski's performance enough. The overall effect was dynamic and effective. Good work.

Jonas Kaufmann was a Florestan to die for, with a gorgeous Heldentenor sound and a body lean enough to convince you he might be starving. Everyone looked and sounded exactly as they should. Camilla Nylund has plenty of squillo and is tall and slender enough to pass as a boy.

Is it our modern sensibilities that notice so much the plight of Marzelline who planned to marry Fidelio? Martina Jankova was excellent in the part.

The costumes were period and the sets minimalist--isn't everything these days? The staging of the confrontation in the dungeon was clearer and more effective than others I've seen.

I always imagine Beethoven himself at the end and feel how much he loved this opera, how much he adored these characters. "O namenlose Freude." For me Fidelio is a great opera and this was a balanced and beautiful performance of it.

2 comments:

oemer said...

Did you happen to see another Semele performance, e.g. that on Sunday night ? And if so, how was it and how was Cecilia backstage ? I am going to Zurich next weekend and am already very curious !

Dr.B said...

I wasn't up to two operas in one day. Cecilia backstage was in rare form. At one point she exchanged glasses with an admirer to have her picture taken.