Il re pastore. Salzburg 2006. Production and conductor: Thomas Hengelbrock. Cast: Kresimir Spicer (Alessandro), Annette Dasch (Aminta), Marlis Petersen (Elisa), Arpiné Rahdijan (Tamiri), Andreas Karasiak (Agenore). Balthasar-Neumann-Ensemble. Further information here.
Not exactly a standard work in the repertoire, Mozart´s two-act serenata from 1775 (he was 19) Il re pastore, libretto by Metastasio and previously used by several other composers, such as Gluck. A story including the usual ingredients of fidelity, love and a benevolent ruler, whose element of rigid opera seria are emphasized by director-and-conductor Thomas Hengelbrock in this stylized set-up.
Creating a stage within the stage, with present-day characters surrounding the black-and-white pantomine look-a-likes of the shepherd/king-to be (wonderfully played and sung with a dark, silvery timbre by Annette Dasch) and her beloved Elisa (in Marlis Petersen´s crystal clear high notes), Hengelbrock creates a play within-a-play:
Initially all characteres meet in front of the stage in modern dress, play a game of cards, where Aminta and Elisa draw two hearts prompting them to quickly change into pantomime dress to enter the second stage to let the play begin..
Interchanging between characterized pantomimes and modern-day real characters Hengelbrock emphasizes the duality of this piece. Not a masterpiece, perhaps, but a highly entertaining staging.
Annette Dasch as the shepherd (future king) on the stage-within-the stage "Aer tranquillo":
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
All singers: 4-5
Thomas Hengelbrock: 5
Overall impression: 5