Thursday 1 March 2012
I saw this production in Salzburg in 2007 and was impressed, but as the Salzburger Festspielhaus is massive, even if my seat was good, I now see how many details I missed.
Director Philipp Stölzl is mainly known as a video director, having worked both with Rammstein and Madonna (American Pie) and the James Bond titel song The world is not enough. He directs opera as he does music videos - fast-paced, colorful, aesthetic. I remember some found him superficial in Salzburg. I think it is outstanding.
In brief we are somewhere in a future city, on top of a roof, the skyline constantly visible. Key elements include: Robots, a helicopter (in which Cellini makes his arrival), the Pope as a rockstar and so on. The special effects are stunning, and apparently Stölzl and his team spent a week in the Festival House to design the light effects. Gotham City I called it when I saw it in Salzburg.
Vesselina Kasarova sprained an ankle during Alcina in Munich and cancelled, as did Neil Schicoff, allegedly due to some controversy over the appointment of the new intendant of the Vienna State Opera (a post he didn´t get). While Kate Aldrich was a great replacement for Kasarova, less so for Burkhard Fritz, who was somewhat less than ordinary. Committed performance also from Valery Gergiev and the Vienna Philharmonics.
The bottom line (scale of 1-5, 3=average):
Burkhard Fritz: 3
Maija Kovalevska: 4
Laurent Naouri: 3-4
Mikhail Petrenko: 3-4
Kate Aldrich: 4
Stölzl´s staging: 5
Valery Gergiev: 5
Overall impression: 5