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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo at the Staatsoper Unter den Linden Berlin

    Ti vedo, ti sendo, mi perdo (In attesa di Stradella) - (I see you, I hear you, I lose myself - Waiting for Stradella) - contemporary opera in two acts (20 scenes), sung in Italian with German and English surtitles
    Music by Salvatore Sciarrino
    Libretto by the composer
    Premiered at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan, Italy, on 14 November 2017

    This article is part of the Opera Lively coverage of opera houses in the German-speaking area of Central Europe in the Summer of 2018 - see the links to numerous other reviews, interviews, pictorial blogs, and other articles related to this coverage, by clicking [here]

    This is a co-production of the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin) and the Teatro alla Scala (Milan) - these opera companies have also commissioned the work

    This review is of the performance on July 9, 2018, attended in person. It is part of the Infektion! Festival of New Musical Theater. The Berlin premiere was on July 7.

    There will be three more performances in this run, on July 11, 13, and 15 - for tickets, click [here]
    Running time first act 50 minutes, intermission 25 minutes, second act 60 minutes

    STAATSKAPELLE BERLIN conducted by Maxime Pascal

    PRODUCTION - Opera Lively interviewee Jürgen Flimm
    ASSISTANT DIRECTOR - Gudrun Hartmann
    SET DESIGNER - George Tsypin
    COSTUMES - Ursula Kudrna
    LIGHT DESIGN - Olaf Freese
    CHOREOGRAPHY - Tiziana Colombo
    DRAMATURGY - Benjamin Wäntig

    Cast

    SINGER - Laura Aikin (future Opera Lively interviewee; her interview is coming soon)
    MUSICIAN - Charles Workman
    WRITER - Opera Lively interviewee Otto Katzameier
    PASQUOZZA - Sónia Grané
    CHIAPPINA - Lena Haselmann
    SOLFETTO - Thomas Lichtenecker
    FINOCCHIO - Christian Oldenburg
    MINCHIELLO - Emanuele Cordaro
    A YOUNG SINGER - David Ostrek
    Chorus - Sarah Aristidou, Olivia Stahn, Magnús Hallur Jónsson, Matthew Peña, Ulf Dirk Mädler, Milcho Brovinov

    -----------

    Salvatore Sciarrino's new work has all the features of his distinctive style: crystal-clear, fragile yet urgent music. In addition, he has produced a highly artificial, nuanced text treatment with references to past chapters of music history, now set in a contemporary context.

    The subtitle of Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo is Waiting for Stradella. This alludes to the fate of Alessandro Stradella, a highly prominent Italian composer during his time, who died in mysterious circumstances in 1682 – the victim of a violent crime. The work is set in the home of Cardinal Colonna in baroque Rome, where a singer, a writer, a musician, a choir and an instrumental ensemble are on stage awaiting the arrival of the composer. But instead of the promised new aria, they receive news of Stradella’s death. In the lead-up, the music and life of this controversial, original artist – a legend during his lifetime – are extensively reported and reflected upon. Different perspectives and values play a role, as do thoughts on human nature, the body, the senses and passion – in other words, the very essence of opera as an art form.

    -------------

    With contemporary opera being one of the main focuses of Opera Lively, we extensively covered Salvatore Sciarrino's earlier opera Luci mie traditrice (My betraying eyes), an astounding masterpiece. In 2016, Opera Lively attended in person the Berlin Staatsoper's (then, temporarily performing at the Schiller Theater) production of Luci mie traditrice. We published two reviews of different nights, and interviews with the stage director Jürgen Flimm (who at the time was also the Intendant of the opera company, a position he since stepped down from, to concentrate on stage direction again), the conductor David Robert Coleman, and the two principal singers Otto Katzameier and Katherina Kamerloher. To read this earlier coverage, click [here] for our 2016 Berlin coverage portal, which contains links to all of the above-mentioned articles and interviews. It is our pleasure to return to the same excellent opera company, now relocated back to its traditional house Unter den Linden, to see Sciarrino's new opera.

    --------------

    As part of this coverage, we have already interviewed the composer, Salvatore Sciarrino - read his outstanding words [here], and will be interviewing in the next two days, Otto Katzameier again, and Laura Aikin.

    --------------

    Review of the performance:

    This opera was the very reason for this trip to Central Europe. After the phenomenal performance of Sciarrino's Luci mie traditrici that we attended live at the Staatsoper in 2016, we couldn't miss the composer's new work done by the same accomplished opera company.

    Here is what Sciarrino said to Opera Lively in our exclusive interview, about this work:

    ****************

    Opera Livley - I will attend in person your most recent opera, Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo on July 9 in Berlin. Please tell me what to expect. Describe your opera for me, please.

    Salvatore Sciarrino - It is a singular work, in which three dimensions alternate with each other. We are witnessing the rehearsals of a new cantata on the meaning and origins of music; the dramatic tale of waiting for Stradella, and the comedy of the servants, interweave with these rehearsals. For those who have never seen how a show is produced, it can be an opera full of charm [fascinating]. The true theme of the work is the artistic creation seen under various angles, because Stradella sometimes becomes my alter ego.

    Two musical languages ​​are touching each other: the modern one (mine) and the ancient one (Stradella’s). It's like a dream where everything is also something else. The action takes place in an unspecified time that could be ours; since today the presence of Stradella is still missing, this opera assumes a strange didactic function, that of making people feel immediately how original Stradella was. This allows us to present him and frame him as a forerunner of Romantic musicians, from Chopin to Puccini. In the opera there are points of very high dramatic tension.

    Opera Lively - I heard that Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo combines a philosophical approach, for example with a character who speaks of the divine properties of music, with servants who seem to come from the Commedia dell'Arte, for a comic effect. Furthermore, it is said that the libretto adds intrigue to a rather esoteric subject. Do you agree with these statements?

    Salvatore Sciarrino - Yes, the libretto is strongly philosophical (or sociological) but it is understood by everyone. At La Scala there was really a truly attentive participation, that I would not have expected. The opera makes clear that the new cannot be understood immediately by everyone, because it abandons the norm. Or, it goes unnoticed. Here comes to play the myth of the discovery of a new world. We said that comic and dramatic intertwine. I have also trodden the hand on some gossip around Stradella; if they are substantiated or groundless, I do not care. The rumors are more alive than the documented facts, as everyone can verify by looking at the musical environment of our time.

    Opera Lively - What do you think about the stage direction by Jürgen Flimm for Ti vendo, ti sento, mi perdo? What are its strengths? Is there anything that would have been preferable to do otherwise?

    Salvatore Sciarrino - The stage direction adheres perfectly to the drama, although to some [critics] the staging appeared overloaded. The representation of the theater within the theater is done with irony and extraordinary moments of magic.

    **********

    Indeed, the opera opens with the stagehands building up the sets, and we see the machinery in action. After that, the eight scenes in act I come in rapid sequence, setting up the situation as per the synopsis reproduced below. Yes, a lot happens on stage, but I didn't feel it was overloaded or unfocused. Each scene concentrates on two or three characters at most, plus the small chorus on occasion (made of only six singers). Musically this sparsity of means once more delivers Sciarrino's peculiar style that includes stretches of silence as well as small groups of instruments (sometimes only a flute, at other times only percussion, or one violin) often employing extended techniques and subtle registers like the flageolet sounds for the violin at the end of the scene when Stradella's death is announced).

    The much more substantial second act, made of 12 scenes, is when the work becomes quite philosophical and poignant. Line after line of the poetic libretto (thank you Staatsoper Unter den Linden for including the full Italian libretto in the printed material that came with the programme) makes an interesting point about music. I'd say that we get a combination of Waiting for Godot, and Strauss' Capriccio, because two elements seem to occupy the bulk of the happenings: the endless wait for someone who never comes leading to existential despair, and considerations about the merits of text versus those of music. Like in Capriccio, we have a writer and a musician chatting about the advantages of their respective art forms.

    Costumes (very ellaborate), blocking, sets (inspired by a hall at Palazzo Colonna in Rome), and acting are all peculiar and interesting, in a rather perfect physical production. Sciarrino's signature musical style says present, but for the segments of the public less familiar with contemporary works, it is more accessible than in some of his other works, as it gets tempered by the numerous melodious references to Stradella's music (rearranged by Sciarrino, in a sort of alloy between the Baroque music and his own). The vocal writing also appears more direct for most characters who intervene in quasi-declamatory way, except for the character Singer, who gets the huge leaps and acrobatics. Laura Aikin takes care of these with accomplished expertise, and is a pleasure to hear. Our friend Otto Katazameier is unrecognizable under the make-up as the Writer, and is as usual in great voice. Virtually all members of the cast sing very well, and we can't identify any weak links. Even the small roles are well staffed, like in the case of David Ostrek as the Young Singer.

    The orchestra, made for the most part of young (with some very good-looking) musicians, did very well, led by the equally young conductor, a raising star.

    In terms of the inevitable comparison with Sciarrino's masterpiece Luci mie traditrice, the former opera is more impressive in its dramatic and musical intensity, while Ti vedo, ti sento, mi perdo is lighter, more pleasant, and funnier. It is fascinating and I watched it with a smile throughout its duration, while there is no such thing as a smile in Luci.

    I grant to this work and this production the overall score of A+. Is there a reason not to give it the maximum score of A++? Probably not. Every element of this show is rather perfect. The reason I bring it down a notch, unfair as it may seem, is because of the competition it suffers from the superior earlier work Luci mie traditrici. The present opera is elegant, witty, intelligent, funny in parts, sad in parts (as in the final moments once Stradella's death is announced, well staged, sung and played, and well acted), but I happen to have a preference for tragic pieces, and can't stop thinking of the one that remains my favorite Sciarrino piece.

    ...............

    Production pictures (Milan world premiere run), photo credits Marco Brescia & Rudy Amisano - Teatro alla Scala - fair promotional use - basically it's the same artists:

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    Otto is in red, in the middle of the picture. This is the scene when the fate of Stradella is being announced.

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    The servants, who keep mocking the masters.

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    Laura Aikin

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    Same

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    The Young Singer

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    Laura Aikin

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    ------------

    The creators

    Sciarrino, one of the most appreciated contemporary composers and one of the most performed worldwide, has a strong passion for Italian music from 1500 to 1600. While Carlo Gesualdo was among the sources of inspiration for the highly successful Luci mie traditrici (1998), the focal point of the new opera is the tragic life of Alessandro Stradella (1639 – 1682). Unlike his numerous predecessors, inspired above all by the fictional aspects of the figure of the composer (they include Flotow and Franck), Sciarrino chooses not to bring him on stage and to evoke him solely through the music. The staging is entrusted to Jürgen Flimm and Gudrun Hartmann, who have long-standing artistic and personal relationships with Sciarrino, and the baton will be manned by the young Maxime Pascal, winner of the Nestlé award and conductor of the Orchestra Le Balcon in Paris, dedicated to the music of today.

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    Salvatore Sciarrino, composer and librettist, photo Luca Carrà, copyright RaiTrade, fair promotional use

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    Maxime Pascal, conductor, photo Meng Bois, fair promotional use

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    Jürgen Flimm, stage director, photo Hermann and Clärchen Baus, fair promotional use
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 10th, 2018 at 08:18 AM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Synopsis (copyright Teatro alla Scala, translated from the Italian by Chris Owen, reproduced here for fair promotional use, since Opera Lively's intention is to diffuse as much as possible Sciarrino's opera)

    We are at the height of the Baroque age. In a large room of a palazzo in
    Rome rehearsals are underway for a cantata for soprano, choir and instruments
    and during the breaks, the scenes are being set up for the performance.
    The stage is arranged on three levels corresponding to three autonomous
    dimensions, which are in reality connected and in the end converge.
    In the background is a kind of living architecture: theatre seats, a music
    room and perhaps a landscape; here is where the cantata is being rehearsed
    and where the Female Singer, the Choir and the musicians are
    placed; they can move horizontally and vertically. Mid-stage are the palazzo’s
    Servants who are helping with the preparations for the performance.
    Towards the front of the stage stand the Writer and the Musician, next to
    visitors, curious bystanders and members of the ensemble who are awaiting
    their turn to play.

    Act One

    Scene 1
    Female Singer and Choir.
    The rehearsals begin for the cantata, which reflects on the creation of music
    and the seductive power which is part of it; the reflection on artistic creation
    becomes entwined with the utopian search for a new world, the song of the
    Sirens and the myth of Orpheus.

    Scene 2
    Writer, Musician and Female Singer.
    The Writer and the Musician are waiting for Alessandro Stradella, who has
    promised to come with an new aria; while waiting, they talk about this new
    Orpheus, an extreme, rebellious and free artist who, like Caravaggio, is
    searching for the truth about people and things, can read deep into men’s
    minds, exasperates contrasts and sows scandal both through his music and
    his bold adventures. Then the Female Singer approaches asking when the
    composer is expected. The threesome discussion about Stradella also touches
    on matters of aesthetics and poetics.

    Scene 3
    Finocchio and Solfetto.
    The two servants quarrel and, at the same time, gossip, particularly about
    the guests in the palazzo.

    Scene 4
    Female Singer and Choir.
    The rehearsals continue: the idea of detachment before becoming lost is
    highlighted.

    Scene 5
    Finocchio and Minchiello.
    Now it is the stammering Minchiello’s turn to quarrel with Finocchio; the
    two servants mimic the palazzo’s master and his guest.

    Scene 6
    Female Singer and Choir.
    The rehearsals continue: thanks to its faculties, music touches the body rousing
    the deepest passions.

    Scene 7
    Writer and Musician.
    Now the Writer and the Musician are discussing the dissolute life of Stradella,
    this composer who leads such an immoderate existence.

    Scene 8
    Chiappina and Pasquozza.
    It is now the turn of the two female servants to mock their noble masters:
    the subject of their gossip is the mistress of the palazzo and the honour she
    ceaselessly talks of.

    Intermezzo (orchestra solo)

    Act Two
    The rehearsals begin again; it seems as if years have gone by.

    Scene 9
    Finocchio and Solfetto.
    The two servants are commenting on recent events at the palazzo, mentioning
    also Stradella’s amorous adventures, and they mock their master and
    mistress.

    Scene 10
    Writer and Musician.
    The topic under discussion between the Writer and the Musician is Stradella’s
    extraordinary capacity as an adventurous enchanter and seducer who
    manages to combine life with art, love with music; the composer has escaped
    from Rome with his latest conquest, the wife of a powerful nobleman,
    and is being pursued by armed men.

    Scene 11
    Female Singer and Choir.
    The rehearsals continue: music’s power to seduce is symbolised by the image
    of the island of voices and by the figure of the Siren, the creature that
    captivates and enchains.

    Scene 12
    Chiappina and Pasquozza.
    The two servants mimic the mistress who is restless and begs to be consoled
    with music, and the Female Singer sketches one of Stradella’s ariettas. As
    usual, the servants end up bickering.

    Scene 13
    Female Singer and Choir.
    The rehearsals continue: music extends beyond reason, into an original, fantastic
    dimension.

    Scene 14
    Writer and Musician.
    News of Stradella arrives. The composer has fallen victim to an ambush in
    Turin: he has been stabbed, but he has managed to save himself. His killers
    have hidden in the French embassy, causing a diplomatic crisis between the
    court of the Sun King and the court of Turin. Meanwhile, the woman with
    whom Stradella had run away has been shut in a convent, whereas the composer
    has left Turin and is now in Genoa.

    Scene 15
    Female Singer, Choir, Solfetto and Finocchio.
    The Female Singer wants to read some of Stradella’s canzonettas accompanied
    by the musicians. The Choir begins to rehearse again, so the Singer and
    the musicians hurriedly take their places on stage; while they sing of the devouring
    power of the Sirens, Solfetto and Finocchio complain that there will
    not be many leftovers for supper.

    Scene 16
    Writer and Musician.
    According to the latest news, Stradella is working with a fashionable wigmaker.

    Scene 17
    Finocchio and Solfetto.
    The two servants, who have had enough, wonder when the rehearsals will
    be over.

    Scene 18
    Female Singer and Choir.
    The rehearsals continue with the death of Orpheus: while he is being
    stoned, the stones themselves mourn for him. However, he is overcome by
    the fury of the gang; Orpheus loses his voice, the spell is broken and he is
    torn to pieces by the bacchantes.

    Scene 19
    Writer and Musician.
    The Writer and the Musician argue about the role of sensuality and pleasure
    in art, to the point that they begin to fight. In bursts the Young Singer with
    a violinist bringing the news of Stradella’s murder. In despair and accompanied
    by a solo violin, he strikes up an aria whose music simply dissolves.

    Scene 20
    Singer, Young Singer, Writer, Musician and Choir.
    The rehearsals end and the Choir departs immediately, leaving the Female
    Singer alone on the stage; the Young Singer draws near and hands her a
    folded paper, which she begins to read with some surprise. The Young
    Singer, the Writer and the Musician leave commenting on the fact that in
    Stradella’s home neither violins nor manuscripts have been found. The Female
    Singer sings the aria she has just received.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    For those who understand Italian, the full libretto is available as a PDF (monolingual).

    Click [here] for the PDF which is downloadable.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

  5. #4
    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Some pictures taken by Opera Lively:

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    This poster outside captures the moment when all singers make round "ohhhs" with their mouths when Stradella's death is being announced.

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    The opera opens with the exposed theatrical machinery

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    The young orchestra

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    The stagehands are also dressed in character. There is a hilarious scene in which they enter the stage carrying the young ballet dancers like dolls or dead weight

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    Curtain calls
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    This thread is now complete, with the review of the performance included in the middle of the first post.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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