Jun 8, 2009

Der Freischütz, Baden Baden 2009

Der Freischütz 
Carl Maria von Weber

Klaus Kuttler - Ottokar
Reinhard Dorn - Cuno
Juliane Banse - Agathe
Julia Kleiter - Ännchen
Dimitry Ivashchenko - Kaspar
Steve Davislim - Max
Paata Burchuladze - Ein Eremit
Ronald Spiess - Samiel
Matjaz Robavs - Kilian

Festspielhaus Chorus Baden-Baden
Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Thomas Hengelbrock Musical Direction

Robert Wilson Direction, Stage Design and Lighting
Viktor und Rolf Costumes

Arte live broadcast June 1, 2009

Bob Wilson's new production of Weber's masterpiece is an heteroclite mix of bad taste (Viktor & Rolf's ugly costumes) and subtle aesthetics (especially the lights) that conveys the usual minimalist atmosphere what is really his one and only signature.

Apparently my dislike for naïve representations of fairy tales is no match for my deep attraction to minimalism, as I was overall quite disappointed by this production.

The actor's direction also didn't appeal at all to me, even if I liked the idea that the characters are all puppets of the providence (I just can't stand the way Wilson expressed it).

Adding an interlude before the scene of the Wolf's Gen (Wolfsschlucht) at the end of Act II with Baudelaire's Lithanies de Satan was, to my view, not quintessential to emphasize Samiel's presence (Viktor & Rolf's costume was more than enough) and I don't really think Baudelaire's world is somehow close to Weber's, even in that particular occasion.

The musical execution of the Mahler chamber orchestra was not really impressive (the French horns were horrendous) but Thomas Hengelbrock's conduction was interesting most of the time (though sporadically laborious and strained, especially during the overture).

The Festspielhaus Chorus Baden-Baden was spectacular on the other hand, each time they had any note to sing (the huntsmen chorus generated a well-deserved ovation and was encored). A truly superb and memorable performance.

Julia Kleiter as Ännchen was brilliant, both singing and acting (the only one who actually embraced Wilson's direction); her middle register is just superb and perfectly under control. The same thing can't be said about Juliane Banse as Agathe (too weak and hiding behind way too many vibratos), nor about Steve Davislim as Max (ugly high notes). Dimitry Ivashchenko was a very decent and colourful Kaspar.

Further readings:
- "Eine trifft, die andere äffet", I Hear Voices
- MusicalCritiscim.com, Francis Shelton

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