Friday, January 29, 2021

Fidelio from Birmingham

                                                     Marzelline - Leonore

ConductorWilliam Lacey
DirectorGraham Vick

FlorestanRonald Samm
Leonore Jane Leslie MacKenzie
Rocco Jonathan Best
Marzelline Donna Bateman
Jaquino John Upperton
Don Pizarro Keel Watson
Don Fernando Michael Druiett

This version of Beethoven's Fidelio from Birmingham, England, 2002, by way of Operavision, is sung in English in modern dress.  The performance is inside a large tent with the audience and performers all packed into the same space.  A row of washing machines lines one side.  The translation is excellent.  This is fun for some unknown reason.  They haven't fractured it as is sometimes the case.  The main difference is that between scenes there is rioting with a lot of anarchist shouting.  These are the political fights of today.  

I love this opera as I do not love other operas.  Here there is goodness and love.  In this production all is serious.  Rocco is never a clown.  We see the truth of the story even though it is very chaotic.  Only the camera brings sense and organization.  I love Leonore who risks everything for love.  One can't help wondering what it would be like to experience all this chaos and intensity live and in person.  I know what's going on, so I don't become confused by the at times overwhelming intensity.

For the second half many of the audience members stand on numbered spots and when told, put bags over their heads.  I have never experienced anything like this and think it would be amazing.

I like this tenor who does an excellent reading of Florestan's aria.  Much of the credit for the excitement in this performance must go to the young conductor William Lacey.  In the middle of the act, after Florestan and Leonore have sung of their nameless joy, comes a long instrumental part which must be one of the Leonore overtures.  It is staged with people coming out of their cells in the ground.

I've never seen anything like it, but I wouldn't have missed it.  Thank you, Graham Vick, and thank you Beethoven.

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