Thursday, 22 March 2012

Copenhagen: Die Frau Ohne Schatten

Die Frau Ohne Schatten. Copenhagen Royal Opera, March 10th 2012. Production: Kasper Holten. Conductor: Michael Boder. Cast: Marion Ammann (Kaiserin), Johnny Van Hal (Kaiser), Johan Reuter (Barak), Linda Watson (His Wife), Susanne Resmark (Amme), Henning von Shulman (Messenger).

This production marked the ending of Kasper Holten and Michael Schønwandt´s 11-year tenure as artistic resp. music director at the Royal Danish Opera when it opened last Spring. And considering the massive problems with budget cuts which recently led to the resignation of newly appointed artistic director Keith Warner and music director Jakub Hrusa (neither has been replaced yet), Holten and Schønwandt certainly chose the right moment to leave. Especially Kasper Holten, who moved to the London Royal Opera House.
In any case, Kasper Holten certainly ended his tenure with perhaps his best production to date: A visually arresting production, with ample use of video projections tells the story of the two couples, who cannot have children, in a relatively straightforward manner. Entertained from start to end, a major feature is the vertical division of the stage into several chambers, thus showing several pieces of action simultaneously. A concept also used to great effect by Dmitri Tcherniakov in his Munich staging of Khovanschchina. With video projections helping to establish the moods: A tear, a sleeping pill dissolved in a glass of water etc. There is hardly a dull moment in this production, a great relief after having seen Christof Loy´s immensely boring production in Salzburg last summer.
The orchestra received rave reviews last year with Michael Schønwandt. Now, the conductor is Michael Boder, and yes, the orchestra plays well, and nuanced but with Christian Thielemanns mightly Vienna Philharmonics very present in memory it is hard to give them 5-stars. That said, Boder seems to have difficulty grasping the overall structure of the piece.
As for the singers, Johan Reuter is simply the best Barak I have ever heard with a wonderful warm voice, and such a welcome change to have a singer in his prime for this part. Equally a strong turnout for Linda Watson, who still has a very beautiful middle register, which is where most of her part lies. In comparison with her, Susanne Resmark seemed somewhat bleak. Marion Amman, a late substitution for Ann Petersen, was no more memorable than her husband.

A production very well suited for DVD release.

Production trailer:

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

Johnny Van Hal: 2
Marion Ammann: 2

Johan Reuter: 5
Susanne Resmark: 3
Linda Watson: 4

Michael Boder: 3-4
Kasper Holtens staging: 4

Overall impression: 4


Kari Lempiäinen said...

I saw this great production last year. If DVD is planned, I'm ready to order one. Casting Frau is very hard, you need five good voices...

Bogda said...

Die Frau ohne Schatten seems to be quite popular. Just a few places that come to my mind - Salzburg, Copehagen, Milan, London (both produced by Claus Guth - quite interested in that one). There was also an amazing Robert Carsen's production, that has just been revived at the Vienna Stateopera - with some stunning playing from the orchestra (Thieleman watch your back FWM is coming after you, pretty damn fast).

Vecchio John said...

I was very impressed by Marion Amman when I heard her as the Kaiserin in Antwerp .As she sings both Fiordiligi and Isolde she had the ideal combination of strength and flexibility. I hope those dramatic roles have not taken their toll on the voice.

mostly opera... said...

@Bogda: The Met as well, 2013 or 14 with the debut of Anne Schwanewilms as Kaiserin, don´t know if they plan a revival of a new production

@John: She really was worse than I alluded to, with a thin, shrieky voice. But, as she was a late substitution and new to both the staging and the conductor, its not really the time to be too harsh.

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