Saturday, December 12, 2015

Fiery Angel

Conductor:  Vladimir Jurowski
Production:  Barrie Kosky

Ruprecht:  Evgeny Nikitin
Renata:  Svetlana Sozdateleva
Landlady:  Heike Grötzinger
Soothsayer:  Elena Manistina
Agrippa von Nettesheim:  Vladimir Galouzine

If you watch a lot of German opera productions, you probably expected something a lot wilder than this for Prokofiev's Fiery Angel from the Bayerische Staatsoper.  It starts as an ordinary hotel room, and the hotel theme carries throughout.

Renata had an imaginary friend as a child, only her imaginary friend was not another girl, or a giant rabbit, but an enormous fiery angel.  Puberty missed this up, since the angel didn't want to become a boyfriend.  Renata spends the rest of her life looking for him.

Our opera begins in the hotel room with Ruprecht musing and the hotel manager coming in for a talk.  Then Renata crawls out from under the bed.  This was my favorite part.  When did that ever happen?  Renata is completely mad.

After Act I, the rest of the scenes are interrupted by various groups.  Act II includes male dancers with lots of tattoos dressed in evening gowns.  Act IV is Faust and Mephistopheles holding their walpurgis nacht.  And finally Act V where people are supposed to be nuns, they are instead dressed as Jesus in his crown of thorns.

I kept thinking this was the perfect opera to follow our House of Usher duo, just to show how it is done.  Musically this is a spectacular piece.  All the singers were good, but Svetlana Sozdateleva was spectacularly wonderful.  Kudos.  She was perfectly cast for this very difficult role.

I am resisting the old person's inclination to reminisce about previous productions.

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