picture post

I might come back once properly slept and add more content/description but for now just a few photos and curtain call. (edit: i updated the curtain call to one that’s a bit longer.)

Back. So, this post will be mainly about the characterizations. There won’t be much discussion about voice coz i was toooo sleepy to be in the right mind for hearing properly.. Much of this will be my impression of how the characters fit together, with some comparison to the dvd… mainly because we have all seen the dvd. It’s not so much about what is there then and not now.. but rather how the chemistry develops/differs, somewhat along the line of same character Sesto but 2 very different realizations between Zürich 2005 and Salzburg 2003…


Marie Theres’! Octavian!
Mein Schatz! Mein Bub’!

First Act: On first note, i remember thinking the orchestra is a bit too loud, masking out Kasarova’s voice. This Octavian is truly a very young boy with not yet much experience in life. He’s in love with the Marschallin and she’s his, that is the world. Since we have the same two singers, one would think the chemistry would develop similar to their first round. But i think 10 years is a long time and singers change their perspectives (?) The Marschallin remains as she was but this boy is much more clueless, a “didn’t get it” reciever to his lover’s inner/outer thoughts. It wasn’t until he came back in proper clothes during one of the Marschallin’s moods that i got the perfect image to describe him, fitting all the way to the tip of the tail coat.  The image is from the great children book i read growing up (here’s english translation, titled “diary of a cricket”). He’s young, idealistic, full of adrenaline, short in life experience, making snapping decision which in his mind is most fitted without fully thinking of the outcome. In short, a teenage boy. Earworm wrote about this in her review of the dvd, but i didn’t really see this  boy fully until the performance last night. This, i think, is a compliment to Kasarova’s acting skill. And I had mentioned before too that in this opera (from the dvd), i was most drawn to her acting…

The rest of the act, I quite like Alfred Muff’s voice and characterization. Nothing overdone, just an annoying stiff full of himself while degrading women with his passing comments. This is from the libretto and his phrasing delivers that. In many other performances, i think this characters tend to be depicted in rather over the top manner to make him unlikeable. Here (and as well in the dvd), i really like this characterization, just as is, already what’s coming out of this mouth (including music, phrasing) is telling enough. As for the Marschallin, let’s wait until next round (hoping that i would get in in time…) for me to get more impression…

Onto Act II: (after i fell asleep in the waiting area during intermission)
I quite like Rachel Harnisch (Sophie)’s voice, but am unsure about the phrasing… And related to that the whole rose presentation scene, which you know i was wide awake for 😉 . The whole thing seems quite a rush, from the moment Sophie could barely ran into the cupboard without tripping, to Octavian almost running in and barely getting all phrasing through for the rose delivering speech, to Sophie opening the door walking right out passing Octavian, to them no longer holding hands during their inner-thought spilling session, to finally when the eyes met… Not sure what the missing ingredient was but there was not quite the spark here. My impression is that the tempo is too fast (!, the whole show was 3hr40min excluding 2 pauses) . But cutting into tempo to make time during certain (very important) parts can be damaging i argue… Anyhow, so, they sort of met, not sure what Sophie saw, but Octavian totally reminded me of my teenage and early 20s years, the sort of hopelessly falling instantly in love with any girl who “might have made” an eye connection, of freely interpreting and now dedicating life to protect her… 😉 . I’m sure the next round i see her she would do something different, but at least the version yesterday was just that boy (girl). The fact that their chemistry didn’t quite spark as was in the dvd, on top of the rushing tempo, might even work here into the story. The whole mess, after all, is unfolding very quickly (in the kitchen). Octavian is both waving knife declaring war and crawling hiding behind kitchen table while searching for Sophie’s eyes for connection and words of encouragement… Finally, Octavian went out to give some order behind the see-through glass, and yours truly promptly fell asleep until the end of the act.

(at this point, i would have much preferred to sleep through until beginning of Act III, but then got kicked out again coz they changed set…So things improved by the act and I unsure if i progressively was more awake or that musically it was also getting more and more tense… though that didn’t really explain the first Act full of wonderful music… anyhow, onto..)

Act III: girly Octavian hanging out with the baron, quite fun to watch and listen to. I’m sure they were having fun acting and singing here. Frau K should really open a school teaching all how to walk while criss-crossing gender. just magnets for the (my) eyes 😉 . The Marschallin came back, here one can reallly hear well her voice and pain.  Orchestra was much softer.  And another situation to sort out. Octavian is clearly a boy who loves her, but he’s now much more infatuated with the younger Sophie. In his ideal world both should exist somehow, and he’s VERY confused why the Marschallin is telling him to “go over there!”, not even sensing the jealousy and resignation in her tone. He still has very strong feeling for her, as evident by the long stretch of the two holding hands leading up to the finale… and the trio is of course goose-bump inducing and magnificent, followed by the absolutely marvelous duet (and more goosebumps). Octavian smiling happily grabbing Sophie’s hand after the trio.. which is quite different than in the dvd when (s)he smiled more subtly. As the Marschallin collapsed, Octavian no longer kneeled down but remained standing while helping to get her off the floor. You might think i read a bit too much into this, but the knee-bending meter is quite telling on how readily Octavian is in jumping ship… So there you have it, the poor Marschallin went home alone… i could send her my hotel address.





About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

5 Responses to picture post

  1. Al says:

    Highly inspiring photos, have a good rest !

  2. Anik LaChev says:

    thank you for putting this up, especially before falling asleep (no doubt to very nice dreams 😉 )!

  3. Eyesometric says:

    Thank you, Dr T!

  4. Tove S says:

    Thanks for your video and impressions! I was there opening night and I agree VK portrays the teenage boy masterly. I think she does on the DVD too, but you might be right this boy was even more boyish and clueless. Even if not, it’s more impressive to portray this young boy at 10 years older. Re characterisation, I missed the old Sophie (Hartelius) who was more cheeky. I liked the way she counted the sins off her fingers like homework, her grimace at “Hyacinth”, the half-afraid, half-rebellious way she had of curtseying. Of course it can’t be easy to step into someone else’s shoes and the new singer has every right to do her own take on the role, but I regret that this Sophie was more bland and meek. She did grow a bit more proud and spunky in the last act though.

    • thả diều says:

      ahhh, thanks for the link to the lovely curtain call photo with your flower :-). I agree with you i quite miss a Sophie with more connection in Act II. and true i did both times enjoyed her characterization in Act III. Actually she has a stronger showing in act 2 in last night performance too, as i have just now put up on the new post.

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