Sunday, April 7, 2013

Die Zauberflöte off to a new start with the Berliner Philharmoniker

 "[This] piece," said Simon Rattle about Die Zauberflöte, "is a conductor's graveyard." He went on to indicate that he had avoided it for reasons of "self-preservation," until an irresistible opportunity came about: incredible as it sounds, this run of performances was the first time this iconic opera has been performed live in the history of the Berliner Philharmoniker. A live concert performance of the opera was transmitted over the Digital Concert Hall.

Rattle always makes one hear familiar music in new ways. There were many gestures that he stamped as fresh and engaging. Right from the start, each of the three fanfares was played with the third articulation in echo tone, almost like a reverberation of the two articulations before it. But more importantly there was a flow within the work, in and out of the spoken dialog, that had an appealing sense of shape and structure.

The sound of the orchestra was edged and very present, and it made one aware of the particular colors that are used to shade and often connect non-adjacent moments within this opera. The singers inhabited the space between the back of the orchestra and the chorus and they were able to suggest a staging even with the limited means they had at their disposal.

Words are significant in this opera. This production placed subtitles on the screen in an interesting way. The text stretched across the entire screen in German with a smaller italicized English translation underneath it. We were able to anticipate the German text almost as if reading a score, and the German text made the care given to diction in this performance apparent. I wish Met-Live-in-HD occasionally used this style of subtitles.

Kate Royal was Pamina in this Zauberflöte
The cast was well-chosen. Particularly impressive was soprano Kate Royal as Pamina. She was able to develop shades in Pamina's elusive character across the arias and spoken lines that the role contains. In her act II aria "Ach, ich fühl's, es ist verschwunden," one could feel her focus the collective energy of the hall and even of cyberspace as she shaped piercing vocal leaps and etched coloratura in a glowing G minor. I also liked soprano Ana Durlovski as the Queen of the Night. She was able to land and project the almost always overlooked lowest notes of this part known for its high side.

Balances in the ensembles were also quite good in this performance. One could hear each part in the ensemble of three boys with rare clarity. The spike in applause they received at the curtain was well earned.

It is a pleasure to hear the Berliner Philharmoniker play concert opera. One can only hope for more.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sarah Willis to Interview Soprano Anna Prohaska

Anna Prohaska is a singer with a story. "I suppose one could explain this yearning for fantasy," she mused in the trailer for her new Archiv Production Disc. "There is a yearning for the supernatural because everything can be explained." Prohaska has reconnected us with an "Enchanted Forest," the title of her latest CD.

An artist with a broad portfolio of interests, this disc brings a culturally relevant ache and a young attitude to Baroque repertoire. While not alone in this endeavor, Prohaska is a singer with credentials who continues to impress.

Sarah Willis will interview Prohaska on her live chat site on April 2nd at 9pm Berlin/ 3pm New York/ 7am Melbourne. These Willis interviews are "must see" events. They combine an artful sense of personal communication with a live chat audience that is informed and frequently entertaining.

Willis has interviewed several legends of the horn world on her site, but the site also includes successful chats with other kinds of musicians. Willis has a very natural journalistic sense. Her live chat with soprano Barbara Hannigan last January was an outstanding example of how insightful the process can can watch that interview here.

I will tune in to watch on Tuesday.  Join me.

"Within these strict structures," said Prohaska of the Baroque style on her new disc, "there is a lot of freedom." The same thing seems true of the technology used to initiate these new enterprises, these chats, these electronic connections.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...