The Old Fidelio

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lennygoran
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The Old Fidelio

Post by lennygoran » Fri Mar 17, 2017 10:15 pm

I'm skeptical of this review-didn't care for it then and won't be seeing it again-I did think the cast when we saw it was wonderful. Regards, Len

Review: Spruce and Taut, the Met Opera’s ‘Fidelio’ Looks Good at 17

By ANTHONY TOMMASINI MARCH 17, 2017


How does an opera company keep an ambitious production vibrant and vital when it’s revived? The best way, of course, is to bring back the original director, something Peter Gelb, the Met’s general manager, has tried over the years. Because these artists are often busy elsewhere, revivals are routinely entrusted to an in-house stage director, who basically recreates the original while taking some liberties and adapting the concept to new casts.

But the German director Jürgen Flimm, 75, has come back to preside over the revival of his acclaimed 2000 production of Beethoven’s “Fidelio,” which opened on Thursday. He even joined the exceptional cast and the conductor Sebastian Weigle onstage during curtain calls, which is unusual for a 17-year-old production.

His participation paid off. Mr. Flimm’s production makes a virtue of the story’s vagueness. The libretto sets the opera in a prison near Seville, where Florestan, a Spanish nobleman, has been held as a political prisoner by the corrupt prison governor. Beethoven’s opera celebrates liberty, standing up to injustice and heroic marital devotion.

Mr. Flimm strengthens the opera’s idealized themes by presenting the story through resonant contemporary details. This prison — with its tall concrete walls, tiers of cells, and dank dungeon cluttered with junk — could be anywhere in vaguely modern times. The guards wear khakis and caps; the governor’s soldiers pack Glocks and semiautomatic rifles. Robert Israel’s sets and Florence von Gerkan’s costumes looked sharp and fresh here, though there were an unusual number of little glitches: singers knocking over flowerpots, or dropping things.

In 2000, the charismatic soprano Karita Mattila sang the challenging role of Leonore, Florestan’s courageous wife, who, disguised as a young man, Fidelio, has taken a job in the prison where she suspects her husband is being held. Her Florestan was the heldentenor Ben Heppner, at his best. Singers of quite different qualities, though also impressive, are taking these roles for the revival: the soprano Adrianne Pieczonka as Leonore, and the tenor Klaus Florian Vogt as Florestan.


Ms. Pieczonka, last heard at the Met as Chrysothemis in the searing new production of Strauss’s “Elektra” a year ago, brings an affecting blend of emotional vulnerability and valiant determination to Leonora. Her ample, gleaming voice gave lift and body to the arching phrases of “Abscheulicher!” (Monster!), the dramatic recitative and aria in which Leonora curses Pizarro, the prison governor, and steels herself to somehow rescue her husband.

Mr. Vogt may lack the vocal heft of a classic heldentenor. Still, his sound is focused, penetrating and warm. When we first encounter the character, enchained in the dungeon at the opening of Act II, Florestan rises from exhaustion and cries out, “Gott! welch’ Dunkel hier!” (God! What darkness here.) Most tenors seize the moment to dispatch a chilling high G on the word “Gott!” Mr. Vogt began softly, almost plaintively, letting the tone swell slowly and gain intensity. If less of a shocker, this outburst came across as genuinely despairing, the cry of a broken man.

He may more ideally suit roles like Wagner’s brooding Parsifal, which he sang splendidly last summer in a new production at the Bayreuth Festival in Germany. Still, his voice carried effectively in the house on Thursday, and he brought uncommon tenderness and poignancy to the role.

The bass-baritone Falk Struckmann made a hardy-voiced Rocco, the jailer who runs the prison at the behest of the terrifying Pizarro, here the snarling bass-baritone Greer Grimsley. Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, a young German soprano, had an auspicious Met debut as Marzelline, Rocco’s impressionable daughter, who has fallen for Fidelio, not knowing the truth about this shy newcomer. Ms. Müller has a bright, beguiling voice and a lovely stage presence. The ardent tenor David Portillo makes an endearing Jaquino, a worker in the prison who adores Marzelline but has been supplanted, to his dismay, by Fidelio.

Mr. Weigle, who will conduct the Met’s highly anticipated new production of Strauss’s “Der Rosenkavalier” next month, has worked extensively at houses and festivals throughout Europe, but only once before at the Met: a run in Mozart’s “Magic Flute” during the 2000-1 season. Though there were some imprecise entrances and occasional scrabbled passages in his “Fidelio,” he brought breadth, shape and character to Beethoven’s score over all, and provided sensitive support to the cast and chorus.

The Met’s excellent choristers were especially impressive during the jubilant final scene of “Fidelio,” when the families of the prisoners, with woman and children in everyday wear, are reunited with their husbands and fathers, liberated by the noble Don Fernando (Günther Groissböck), thanks to the actions of the heroic Leonore. A moving touch of Mr. Flimm’s original staging, it was good to see it in his refreshed revival.


https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/17/arts ... front&_r=0

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