Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Salzburg 2011 - Claus Guth Cosi Fan Tutte in a major revision

@ MonikaRittershaus for Salzburger Festspiele
Cosí fan tutte. August 16th, Haus für Mozart, Salzburg Festival. Prod: Claus Guth. Cond: Marc Minkowski with Musiciens du Louvre. Cast: Maria Bengtsson (Fiordiligi), Michele Losier (Dorabella), Anna Prohaska (Despina), Alek Shrader (Ferrando), Christopher Maltman (Guglielmo), Bo Skovhus (Alfonso).

It is a major revision of his 2009 staging of Cosi Fan Tutte presented by Claus Guth at this years
Salzburg Festival. A pity really, that the 2009 version is already preserved on DVD, as this "new" version is more closely related to the rest of Guth´s Da Ponte trilogy (Nozze di Figaro, 2006 on DVD and Don Giovanni from 2008).
In 2011 we see the plain interior of a white house, complete with the staircase from Nozze di Figaro. The party from 2009 is over and now all excesses have been dispersed with leaving a pure psychoanalytical room, the looming pine forest (also seen in Don Giovanni) gradually dominating the house, while the two girls are increasingly covered in  (symbolical) dirt, as the two black-clad angels of Alfonso and Despina lurk around and occasionally freezes the action. Those familiar with his Nozze di Figaro will immediately nod in recognition. However, really touching, it is never. And though the theatrical assemblances to both Nozze and Don G are obvious, it is not so obvious exactly what to make of them.
But a major revision it certainly is - I don´t remember having seen such fundamental changes in the conception and execution of a work between seasons before, compared to what is on the DVD this is a substantially different production.

As always with Guth, those prefering a bubbly comedy should look elsewhere, but judging from the big applause (as opposed to the booing when this production opened in 2009), the Salzburger audience seems to have learned  this lesson - after all Claus Guth initiated his Da Ponte cycle in 2006, which is now completed and all three Da Ponte operas may be seen at this years festival.
Curiously, a Japanese tourist continued to take photographs using his flash during the performance, which was quite annoying - I could see exactly who it was, and where he was seated (on the balcony, while I was on the parterre). Why someone didn´t stop this, I simply fail to understand. Germans/Austrians are not exactly known to restrain themselves when it comes to operatic etiquette. But perhaps too many tourists were present..

This time, it was not the Vienna Philharmonics playing, instead Marc Minkowski brought his Musiciens du Louvre in a fresh take on the score.

Vocally, Maria Bengtsson was disappointing - a slim voice with a nasal sound, shaky coloratura, strange shifts in tempo and seeming to hold somewhat back. Michele Losier, who will perform in Faust later this year in both London and New York, was a fine Dorabella, however the standout of the female cast was clearly Anna Prohaska, with superb Mozartean style and sense of characterization and crystal-clear singing. My guess: In five years she will be singing the Mozartean repertoire everywhere.

Among the males, both Bo Skovhus and Christopher Maltman brings weighty stage presence, though Maltman occasionally acts more than he sings. Also Alek Shrader seems on his way to more major assignments with convincing acting and unstrained vocalism.

The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):

Christopher Maltman: 4
Bo Skovhus: 4
Alek Shrader: 4
Maria Bengtsson: 3
Michele Losier: 4
Anna Prohaska: 5

Marc Minkowski: 4

Claus Guth: 3-4

Overall impression: 4

1 comment:

Hairman said...

Wonderful to see you blogging again - Prohaska is quietly making a name for herself, which might sound an odd statement to make about a singer who has already released a cd with DG.

Surprised to see you weren't wholly convinced by Maltman - he has one of the warmest voices around to my ears.

Minkowski & co are a quality act in anyone's books.

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