domingo, 20 de noviembre de 2016

But why did the Joker shoot Florestan ? – Fidelio at the Munich Staatsoper

Photo: Wilfried Hösl

Suzanne Daumann

With Fidelio, his only opera and forever unfinished work, Beethoven gives us a projection canvas with lots of space for stage directors’ imaginations. Calixto Bieito, in this 2001 production, turns the story into a reflection about our psychological captivity, prisoners that we are of our own perception. Thus, the triangle Fidelio, Marzelline and Joaquino, acquires a new and deeper dimension, way beyond the anecdote about youthful love and errors. The set is sober and symbolic, consisting only of a three-dimensional maze, where the protagonists err and search, find and lose each other and themselves. The political dimension has mostly given way to the psychological one, and is yet present throughout. Some poetic and fitting lines by Jose Luis Borges replace the spoken texts, always a bit of a difficulty with Fidelio. Light effects on the maze and a night-blue background create a dream-like atmosphere. The prisoner Florestan first appears in pyjamas, until Leonore brings him a suit and tie, as he is set free. The final duo lacks a bit in intensity from the singers being busy changing clothes at the same time. Anja Kampe interprets Leonore, and she is powerful. With her grand soprano voice, round and generous, she inhabits her character totally. The somewhat academic staging doesn’t make it easy for the singers to define their characters, but she simply nails it.  Baritone Günther Groissböck sings and plays an intelligent and elegant Rocco. Tenor Klaus Florian Vogt is Florestan. His clear smooth voice comes across as big and powerful, a light Heldentenor as it were. His Florestan is no political hero; he is Mr Everybody, the sleepwalking prisoner of his own perception. Marzelline, Hanna-Elisabeth Müller, and Joaquino, Dean Power, are young, fresh and touching. John Lundgren, agile et expressive baritone, is as detestable as it gets as Don Pizarro.  Torben Jürgens sings Don Fernando. The governor who arrives to declare Florestan’s freedom and the end of Pizarro’s terror regime, appears in one of the stage loges, dressed as The Joker, and shoots Florestan. Simone Young seems a bit ill at ease with the big Beethovenian bathos, and the orchestra sounds a bit subdued under her baton. The string quartet however, that interprets an excerpt of opus 132’s slow movement is intense and its pianissimo is hair-raising. All in all an inspiring evening, that opens doors to all kinds of other universes. One question prevails however: Why oh why did the Joker shoot Florestan? 

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