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This stylish 1995 Stéphane Braunschweig Fidelio production is so old, that the singers seem left on their own in creating their characters in the very stylish environment mainly consisting of variations on the white cellars, as seen on the above photograph. This is one of the productions, which look better on photographs than seen live, where it tends to get rather static.
Angela Denoke both looks and acts superbly as Leonore, however as a rather lyrical voice, she is quite overchallenged in the big moments - no less so than Waltraud Meier last week, apparently.
Christof Fischesser, whose sorry job it is to sing all René Pape´s parts when he is not around, is actually a very good Rocco - fine voice, fine actor, looks fine. I´d be curious to hear how the King Marke´s he is doing at the moment shape up. Falk Struckmann plays himself as ever and barks more than sings Pizarro.
Last and definitely worst: Johan Botha simply delivered one of the most disgraceful performances I´ve ever seen by an international opera singer. It may be politically incorrect to say so, but this man is simply to large to be standing on an opera stage. Secondly, he makes no attempt to act. Even for those not caring about these issues, he was off-pitch for his entire aria, with a strange vibrato. And since Florestan is virtually a one-aria part, there is not much left. Rather worrying that Daniel Barenboim casted him in this, as he tends to work with the same singers, bearing in mind his upcoming Ring. At least Barenboim conducted the performances last week, so he will have seen this himself..
Karl-Heinz Steffens is not a bad conductor, but when you know how this Fidelio sounds when Daniel Barenboim conducts it, it´s hard to be overly enthusiastic. Though he probably cannot be blamed that the Staatskappelle seemed to take a day off.
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Angela Denoke: 4
Christof Fischesser: 4
Johan Botha: 1
Falk Struckmann: 3
Braunschweig´s production: 4
Karl-Heinz Steffens: 3
Overall impression: 3-4