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The Tsar's bride - Staatsoper Unter den Linden, Berlin

Achim Dombrowski

Would we witness the 19th century fairy tale scenery on stage, again? Would we be bored by a "normal" love-jealousy-revenge story as basis for brilliant singing and superbly instrumented orchestra playing, wondering why opera still made into the 21st century ? One can easily imagine by reading the plot before the performance. Not so when the curtain of this production rises ! Not so with Dmitri Tcherniakov ! Tcherniakov embeds the traditional plot into the reality of...

Der Meister und Margarita - Hamburgische Staatsoper

Achim Dombrowski

Höllers’ opus, originally commissioned by the Hamburg opera in 1984, has finally made to town, 24 years after its world premiere in Paris in 1989. An unexpected change of directors at the Hamburg theater shortly after the assignment, opened the chance for its first production in Paris, directed by Hans Neuenfels and under the baton of Lothar Zagrosek who also conducted the second production in 1991 at the Cologne opera house, directed by Friedrich Meyer-Oertel. The only...

Mehta's and Kupfer's Salome - Staatsoper unter den Linden, Berlin

Achim Dombrowski

What a surprise – it is very unusual to see a 35-year old opera production still performed with such subtle intensity in terms of acting and personal interaction. I assumed the Berliner Staatsoper has highly experienced evening supervisors for their performances (which they most likely have anyway) just to learn that Harry Kupfer himself oversaw the rehearsals of the revival of his 1979 Salome production – which made the audience follow the opera with high...

Tchaikovsky's Iolanta - Gärtnerplatztheater, Munich

Helmut Pitsch

"What a wonderful music" was the reaction of most of the audience after this concert performance of Tchaikovsky´s last opera Iolanta. This seldom performed opera returned recently successful to concert halls thanks to Anna Netrebko in the title role of the blind princess. The story is touching, based on a tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The composer's brother Modest Tchaikovsky created the libretto and Piotr IllitchTchaikovsky a wonderful sensible and...

Die Walküre - De Nederlandse Opera

Helmut Pitsch

Everything is dark, light is dimmed, the Wanderer creeps around checking Notung in the trunk, Siegmund settles down exhausted and Sieglinde roams lost around. Suddenly a metal noise disrupts the mystical music of the prelude, Notung fell off the trunk and lies well placed on stage,  just in front of the shocked eyes of the audience. But this misfortune does not really harm the intense evening to come. Christopher Ventris conquers with his powerful warm tenor the love of his...

Benedikt von Peter's La Boheme - Theater Bremen

Achim Dombrowski

And it finally happened : I always had some kind of absurd, if not obscene perception in light of ever more expensive scenery and costumes in any new La Boheme production where ever the opera had been performed. How much money can an opera company possibly afford to spend faking the atmosphere of poverty and misery ? And what remains from a perfectly sung performance today ? A little bit of kitsch and a group of immaculately singing stars, possibly a sensitive orchestra sound ?...

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