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Subject: Bayerische Staatsoper's Christmas Trittico
From: "G. Paul Padillo" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:G. Paul Padillo
Date:Mon, 8 Jan 2018 15:29:37 -0500

text/plain (94 lines)

I don’t recall reading anything here during the holidays about the live 
webcast of this from Munich.  I thought it would remain on demand for a 
few weeks, but apparently this is not the case, and that’s too bad.

I watched the live performance on December 23rd and, though I was 
puzzled by some of the directorial choices and the live video “editing” was 
riveted from start to finish.  One of the biggest issues I had were the far 
too frequent shots of Maestro Petrenko in the pit, every excruciating facial 
expression magnified and screen filing, and too often these came at 
important points of the score where watching the characters would be the 
logical choice.  One critic I read mentioned "I've seen symphony concerts 
that didn't show the conductor as much."  Still, a minor quibble, all things considered

The production is by Lotte de Beer and she begins the evening by 
presenting an odd, silent funeral procession for Tabarro.  One senses 
immediately, and correctly, that all three operas will take place in this a 
long tunnel-like set with a “surprise” special effect, which will tie all three 
together, though after the first, it really wasn’t much of a surprise.  
Eva Marie Westbroek looked great and sounded better than she typically 
does in verismo-esque operas.  

Jonghoon Lee and Wolfgang Koch complete the love triangle, both 
matching her in intensity, and pouring out plenty of both voice AND 
drama.  Following Luigi’s murder, Giorgietta doesn’t notice him until the 
entire rear of the stage spins in a 360 degree rotation, his body flopping 
upside down as it reached its place of origin.  They all remain onstage, as 
another funeral takes place, the unhappy couple joining in the procession, 
slowly lumbering toward the rear of the stage as we hear the opening 
strains of Suor Angelica.  No intermission.  

As the crowd clears, we see the young nun, her hair being violently yanked 
and shorn off by one of the older sisters.  Ermonella Jaho gave one of the 
most beautifully sung Angelicas in my long experience with this opera, the 
shading, nuances and complete control of the voice was something to 
behold on every level.  There isn’t a lot of power in the lower range, but 
she used her voice wisely and the top opened up with glorious, beautiful 
tone.  Combined with her acting, it was, as Angelica should always be, 
absolutely heartbreaking  Michaela Schuster was the Aunt and the path of 
a more oppressive, formidable old broad you would not want to cross.  

Jaho’s Angelica is a bit more tomboyish than we usually get, and while a 
sensitive lass, she’s prone towards fits of violence, particularly when 
provoked.  When she throws over some furniture, lunges at her auntie and 
grabs the Princesses’ walking stick you fear for the old woman’s life. I was 
thrilled by the moment, but it felt like it belonged more to a struggle typical 
of Alexis and Krystal in the old camp drama “Dynasty.”  

I did have another "uh oh" moment when, during the “miracle” you 
couldn’t help but notice her son was strapped within an inch of his life to a 
chair as we waited for that rotating stage to take another horrifying spin, 
Exorcist style.   During an intermission interview, it made more sense to 
me as Jaho described that in this production, Angelica dies in horror and 
agony, the vision of her son, not a miracle, but actually a nightmare as she 
dies alone.  I kind of liked that, but still prefer "the miracle" Puccini intended.


The least intrusive direction came during “Gianni Schicchi” which was 
something of a miracle on its own.  The unit set from the previous operas, 
made perfect foil to the renaissance-inspired costumes and action, making 
the entire thing look like an Old Masters painting come to life.  Ambrogio 
Maestri toned down and dignified a bit his Falstaff presenting Schicchi in an 
absolutely delightful impersonation.  Bonus casting came in the guise of 
Pavol Breslik as Rinnucio, who sang the opening performances, but for the 
telecast, fell ill and rendered voiceless.  He went on to mime/act the role 
while one of the company’s newest members, a young Mexican tenor, sang 
from the side.  Breslik looked (as ever) sensational and though I can’t 
know what the effect was like in the house, lip-synched perfectly and over 
the airwaves “sounded” marvelous.  

The ovation (I know that’s a dirty word these days) was immense, and 
lasted long since none of the casts appeared for curtain calls until following 
Schicchi.  I’m a Trittico nut, so this was a beautiful Christmas treat for me, a
and I hope the production shows up soon on demand again.  
For anyone interested, production photos, a trailer, and a podcast can be 
viewed by clicking the following link.


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