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Thread: Die Gezeichneten at the Komische Oper Berlin

          
   
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    Opera Lively Site Owner / Administrator / Chief Editor Top Contributor Member Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva)'s Avatar
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    Die Gezeichneten at the Komische Oper Berlin

    Die Gezeichneten (The Branded), opera in three acts, sung in German, with German surtitles
    Music by Franz Schreker
    Libretto by the composer, based on the 1904 play Hidalla by German playwright Frank Wedekind
    Premiered first as an expanded concert version of the overture to the opera, entitled "Vorspiel zu einem Drama", at the Vienna Musikverein on 8 February 1914 by the Vienna Philharmonic. The complete opera was first performed on 25 April 1918 by the Frankfurt Opera.

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

    This review is of a production by the Komische Oper Berlin, attended in person on July 11, 2018 (the last performance of the run that opened on January 21; the summer encore is part of the Komische Oper's summer festival).

    A trailer of this production is available on YouTube:



    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]

    Orchester der Komischen Oper Berlin - CONDUCTOR - Stefan Soltész
    Chorsolisten der Komischen Oper Berlin + Vocalconsort Berlin - CHORUS MASTER - David Cavelius

    STAGE DIRECTION - Calixto Bieito
    STAGE DESIGN - Rebecca Ringst
    COSTUMES - Ingo Krügler
    DRAMATURGY - Simon Berger
    LIGHTING - Franck Evin
    VIDEO - Sarah Derendinger

    CAST

    DUKE ANTONIOTTO ADORNO - Joachim Goltz
    COUNT ANDRAE VITELOZZO TAMARE - Opera Lively interviewee Michael Nagy
    LODOVICO NARDI, PODESTÀ OF GENOA - Jens Larsen
    CARLOTTA NARDI, HIS DAUGHTER - Ausrine Stundyte
    ALVIANO SALVAGO, A GENOESE NOBLEMAN - Peter Hoare
    GUIDOBALD USODIMARE - Adrian Strooper
    MENALDO NEGRONI - Ivan Turšić
    MICHELOTTO CIBO - Tom Erik Lie
    GONSALVO FIESCHI - Johnathan McCullough
    JULIAN PINELLI - Lucas Singer
    PAOLO CALVI - Samuli Taskinen
    GINEVRA SCOTTI - Katarzyna Włodarczyk
    MARTUCCIA, HOUSEKEEPER AT SALVAGO - Christiane Oertel
    PIETRO - Christoph Späth
    FIRST SENATOR - Johannes Klügling
    SECOND SENATOR - Tobias Müller-Kopp
    THIRD SENATOR - Tim Dietrich
    A GIRL - Mirka Wagner
    A BOY - Emil Ławecki

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

    An island of lust outside the gates of Genoa, missing and abused high-society children, a physically deformed patron of the arts – these are the ingredients of Franz Schreker’s The Branded. Not for the faint-hearted, in other words – a superlative psychological thriller! Star director Calixto Bieito, the internationally celebrated soprano Ausrine Stundyte, Peter Hoare, and the former ensemble member Michael Nagy – now a regular performer at all the major opera houses – bring to the Berlin public this late Romantic psychological masterpiece.

    With widely sweeping waves of melodies and experimental harmonic developments ranging to the edge of tonality, Franz Schreker created scintillating portraits of the human soul in this work, which premièred in 1918. Schreker, who during his lifetime was the most frequently-performed German composer but was then defamed as »debased« from 1933 onward, here created a piece of musical theater which – inspired by symbolism and psychoanalysis – dissolves both musical and dramatic boundaries. His characters are literally branded by one another. Under the direction of the grand-master of interpreting human spiritual suffering Calixto Bieito, and under the musical direction of the internationally successful conductor Stefan Soltesz, the protagonists search for salvation through love and beauty, but lose themselves in the abyss of political intrigues, erotic excesses and terrible betrayal.

    Calixto Bieito’s 2005 production of Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio at the Komische Oper Berlin caused a veritable opera scandal, and with his other works – including Madame Butterfly, Armida and The Marksman – he has continued to bring powerful, thoroughly disturbing images to the stage. With Franz Schreker’s masterpiece, he now examines the final taboo of erotic desire in a brutal and a-moral society.

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

    Review of the performance:

    I was extremely enthusiastic about Calixto Bieito's L'incoronazione di Poppea that I saw in Zürich as part of this summer coverage; that staging was truly brilliant. I'm not so sure we can say the same about this one. Like our interviewee Michael Nagy said (his piece will be transcribed and eventually published), Calixto's concept was to present as Alviano's big secret, the idea that he is a pedophile. Well, the notion is shocking enough, but it got shoved onto the audience so insistently that it became excessive. Also, the staging was maybe too grotesque, failing to recover the few moments in this dark piece where there is actually a question of beauty. So, the director maybe went a bit monochromatic here. The sets are different for each act. The first act, we only get a white wall, on which images of children (boys) are presented in black and white. There is an interesting part: Carlotta's portrait of Alviano that she is drawing, is carved with a knife on that white wall, and when it is complete, at the end of Act I, the two characters punch and kick the figure until they make a hole in the wall, and they go through it, to the depraved Elysium island. This was symbolically interesting. I have a predilection for minimalist staging, so I liked act I. Act II though, gets a bit over-the-top with Carlotta making love to a huge green Teddy Bear, the face of one of the artists being projected as if he is in the middle of having sex and an orgasm, and several inflatable huge toys (dinosaurs, a shark, a gorilla, superheroes, etc.), as well as a locomotive that keeps going round and round. While Calixto's staging had a lot of focus during the first act, that aspect is gone in the second act, when too much happens on stage. So, I grant to the staging and physical production a B.

    The orchestra rendered very well this complex and beautiful written-through score, except that for the small Komische Oper Berlin house, it was way too loud, and smothered the singers in several occasions. B+.

    All singers had trouble getting heard above the orchestra, especially the soprano. Not that I want to favor our interviewee, but Michael was indeed the one with the best projection, and he was generally able to cut through the deafening sound generated by the pit. I also liked his singing the best. A+. I wasn't as impressed with the soprano (maybe because of the volume problem). B+. Peter Hoare in the main role of Alviano did well. His timbre of voice is not particularly beautiful. It is a bit rough. However this was a good fit for this character. He earns an A. Comprimarios were mostly unremarkable but also didn't make any mistakes. The chorus did well (also very loud, which seemed to be needed to prevail over this orchestra). Acting was good across the board, A+.

    I thought that overall this show was a bit joyless (of course, the subject matter contributes to this feeling, which isn't the fault of the artists). The best parts were Schreker's score (which is phenomenal, expressive, with a beautiful overture) and Micheal Nagy's singing. The overall average comes to a B+. It won't be remembered as one of highlights of this trip. Maybe part of my disappointment is that I was expecting too much, after the gorgeous staging the director put together in Zürich.

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

    Production pictures (credit unknown, we will be happy to add it when we get the information; meanwhile, fair promotional use)

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    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 11th, 2018 at 09:58 PM.
    "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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    The review of this production is now complete.

    Another thought - maybe part of the reason why I wasn't thrilled with this show is that I'm getting exhausted (and in parts I was having trouble staying awake). This was the 14th opera in a row in as many days. I still have two more interviews to do tomorrow, and two more operas to attend. I've seen both online already. At this point I'm almost tempted to just not go to the last two... but I'll soldier on. There is always the factor that attending opera live at the opera house is always much better than online, as well as the professional responsibility of reviewing and diffusing these shows, honoring the excellent reception Opera Lively got from all these Press Departments from these fine opera companies.

    But I'll definitely make a point of *not* scheduling 16 operas in 16 days in my next trip.
    Last edited by Luiz Gazzola (Almaviva); July 11th, 2018 at 10:04 PM.
    "J'ai dit qu'il ne suffisait pas d'entendre la musique, mais qu'il fallait encore la voir" (Stravinsky)

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