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    Opera Lively Staff Member Top Contributor Member Hoffmann's Avatar
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    The Nose at the Komische Oper Berlin, Germany

    The Nose by Dmitri Shostakovich at the Komische Oper Berlin, Germany


    Conductor: Ainars Rubikis
    Director: Barrie Kosky

    This review is for the performance of 6 July, 2018. This production, directed by Barry Kosky, is a co-production with the ROH Covent Garden, Opera Australia (Sydney) and Teatro Real, Madrid.

    Cast

    Kovalov: Günter Papendell
    Yakovlevich: Jens Larsen
    Praskovya Ossipovna: Rosie Aldridge
    The Nose: Lion Sturm

    The Nose is a satire, completed by Shostakovich in 1928, allegedly regarding the times of Alexander I of Russia. The opera is composed in 3 acts/10 scenes and performed without intermission.

    Barry Kosky, the former Intendant of the Komische Oper, who also designed a well-regarded Der Zauberflöte several years ago, again has come up with a wildly imagined production with The Nose. This production is played for full comic effect and deploys a series of comic tropes, including a troupe of energetic cross-dressed dancers in short pants/skirts, who later showed up in outrageous wigs and matching beards in, I suppose, an old-Russian style. One of the evening’s most enjoyable scenes was when the troupe gathered as a kick-line that launched into a wonderful tap dance sequence. I should note that the nose itself is an oversized papier mache thing marched around on two slender legs - which joins the kickline and tap dance bit. During the curtain call, the nose form was lifted to reveal a boy who looked to be about 12 - 14 years old, who received his own round of wild applause.

    The plot and production, partially because of the large cast, I found to be chaotic and somewhat difficult to follow as it does not follow linear storytelling, but instead comprises quick-cuts between the 10 scenes. The act changes were indicated by a dropped curtain while the orchestra played. I will admit here that my old aversion to “modern” opera kicked in, as the score is very dissonant - aptly reflecting the chaos that ensues on stage, but the combination proved hard for me to sit thru.

    The production has a large cast - I did not list all the performers above, as the Komische Oper had their singers double up on some roles and the cast list is long, and with transliterated Russian names that I am too impatient to itemize. Suffice it to say that Günter Papendell’s lead character of Kovalyev is a force of nature. Pappendell wields his bright, clear baritone with great expression and has precise comic timing.

    The Komische Oper is a sentimental favorite of mine (you will recall that I saw my first opera there 47 years ago), and has remained forever reliable in staging uniquely interesting productions with little known but very talented singers. I have one more evening scheduled at the Komische for Die Gezeichneten (Franz Schreker) later in the week, which I will see with Luiz.

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    Opera Lively Moderator Top Contributor Member Soave_Fanciulla's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hoffmann View Post
    The Nose by Dmitri Shostakovich at the Komische Oper Berlin, Germany


    Conductor: Ainars Rubikis
    Director: Barrie Kosky

    This review is for the performance of 6 July, 2018. This production, directed by Barry Kosky, is a co-production with the ROH Covent Garden, Opera Australia (Sydney) and Teatro Real, Madrid.

    Cast

    Kovalov: Günter Papendell
    Yakovlevich: Jens Larsen
    Praskovya Ossipovna: Rosie Aldridge
    The Nose: Lion Sturm

    The Nose is a satire, completed by Shostakovich in 1928, allegedly regarding the times of Alexander I of Russia. The opera is composed in 3 acts/10 scenes and performed without intermission.

    Barry Kosky, the former Intendant of the Komische Oper, who also designed a well-regarded Der Zauberflöte several years ago, again has come up with a wildly imagined production with The Nose. This production is played for full comic effect and deploys a series of comic tropes, including a troupe of energetic cross-dressed dancers in short pants/skirts, who later showed up in outrageous wigs and matching beards in, I suppose, an old-Russian style. One of the evening’s most enjoyable scenes was when the troupe gathered as a kick-line that launched into a wonderful tap dance sequence. I should note that the nose itself is an oversized papier mache thing marched around on two slender legs - which joins the kickline and tap dance bit. During the curtain call, the nose form was lifted to reveal a boy who looked to be about 12 - 14 years old, who received his own round of wild applause.

    The plot and production, partially because of the large cast, I found to be chaotic and somewhat difficult to follow as it does not follow linear storytelling, but instead comprises quick-cuts between the 10 scenes. The act changes were indicated by a dropped curtain while the orchestra played. I will admit here that my old aversion to “modern” opera kicked in, as the score is very dissonant - aptly reflecting the chaos that ensues on stage, but the combination proved hard for me to sit thru.

    The production has a large cast - I did not list all the performers above, as the Komische Oper had their singers double up on some roles and the cast list is long, and with transliterated Russian names that I am too impatient to itemize. Suffice it to say that Günter Papendell’s lead character of Kovalyev is a force of nature. Pappendell wields his bright, clear baritone with great expression and has precise comic timing.

    The Komische Oper is a sentimental favorite of mine (you will recall that I saw my first opera there 47 years ago), and has remained forever reliable in staging uniquely interesting productions with little known but very talented singers. I have one more evening scheduled at the Komische for Die Gezeichneten (Franz Schreker) later in the week, which I will see with Luiz.
    The tap dancing noses! I love this so much and am envious that you got to see it in the flesh!

    To get a handle on the Nose, it's best to read the Gogol short story on which it is based. It is genuinely hilarious.
    Natalie

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