Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Ludwig II, an opera by Dvořák


Do not expect to find here anything in regard to the incidents we 're all more or less aware of and that took place on opening night and just before the second performance of Rusalka at the Greek National Opera.

Music is a far more serious issue than some ridiculous leaflets (distributed by both sides- the side of the conservative orchestra members that had nothing to do with another artists'-the director's-vision and the side of the activists that discovered the existence of the Greek National Opera).
And about music I will tell.

Beginning with the protagonist, that in this case was no other than the Orchestra of the Greek National Opera, not only because of the fliers but also because they managed, under the direction of maestro Jaroslav Kyzlink, to do an accurate, robust, classy reading of Dvorak's score.

Rumour has it that Kyzlink "suffered" a great deal in order to achieve that and we 're really grateful he did.

Nonetheless, this time, the "better-bigger-clearer" sound of the Orchestra was not produced from the pit of the various Halls of the Athens Megaron and therefore the myth that puts the blame on the pit of the Greek National Orchestra and the theatre's accoustics is soooo busted.


Our Rusalka, Natalia Ushakova, sounded rather nervous at the beginning, unstable at times, strained at the top register but she soon found her way and she delivered a memorable performance: volume & piano singing, slavic brutal sounds & tenderness, razor sharp high notes that overruled the orchestra's ffff and a finale that left me stunned.


Pavel Černoch is a revelation! Why isn't this young, wonderful tenor world-famous? His portrayal of the tormented Prince (or Ludwig II) was, to say the least, excellent.
I don't think I could possibly commit to paper (or rather commit to...blog) all the things I felt/thought while listening to him.

Superlatives would also fail me in regard to Denisa Hamarová
's double bill, as Ježibaba and the Foreign Princess. A wonderful "discovery".

Yevhen Shokalo as Vodnik, the water goblin was certainly not at the level of the 3 leads but did his part justice, while the three wood Sprites, Sofia Soloviy, Maria Marketou and Eleni Voudouraki were quite delightful.

However, I was very annoyed by the terrible, claustrophobic set that limited the stage to a few square metres and was poorly manufactur
ed (Thierry Good), the bad lighting (Pierre Dupouey), and some -not all- terrible costumes (Bruno Falatol): How can you take a woman as beautiful as Natalia Ushakova and make her look like a B-class Raffaella Carrá with those horrible Act I wig and dress?



To the point:

Marion Wassermann's idea (the Prince is inspired by Ludwig II and the whole opera is seen through his eyes while Rusalka is his female alter-ego) potentially could be a brilliant idea. I don't think that "truth" exists in this case. But here are some thoughts:

-Rusalka is seen for the first time in Greece

-The GNO was aware of the stage director's vision for a long time

-A brilliant idea is not enough, the realization of the idea in it's detail is far more important

-What we saw was actually Wassermann's vision? Or was it just the result of censorship and fear?

-Would Wassermann's idea be better founded if she was allowed to do everything she had in mind?

Curtain calls:


For what it's worth, here are the two sides of the same (?) coin:

Listen here EXCLUSIVELY to the boos of the audience towards Marion Wassermann and her attempt to calm them down
(did you, even for a second, think that I wouldn't find it?)

And watch here a bunch of videos from opening night:










5 comments:

derwanderer said...

What a post! Eagerly anticipating the performance! I will post you a review of the Friday and the Saturday performances;-) From what I see here, the staging looks confused, to say the least. But Cernoch, Hamarova and Ushakova sound just awesomely good, even in Utube.

Σ.Π.Ρ. said...

Όντως, η Ushakova που άκουσα στο song to the moon ήταν πολύ καλή!
Βέβαια, είναι αδύνατον να είναι καλύτερη από τη Renee!!! (η αντικειμενικότητα του fan...)
Διάβασα συνέντευξη της Wasserman στην Ε και ντράπηκα... '' δεν έχω, βέβαια, τόσο μεγάλη καριέρα πίσω μου, αλλά αυτό πρώτη φορά μου συμβαίνει''. (Πώς στο καλό κατάφερες να το βρεις, ρε θηρίο!)
Το booing το κατέβασα και το αποθήκευσα, προκειμένου να το έχω έτοιμο για όσους μου λένε κατά καιρούς ότι το ελληνικό κοινό είναι πια ανοιχτόμυαλο και επιπλέον, όταν κάτι δεν του αρέσει, δε γιουχάρει. Αυτοί στους οποίους αναφέρομαι έχουν την ίδια άποψη με εμένα για το γιουχάρισμα, ότι δηλαδή είναι απαράδεκτο.
ΥΓ. Την επόμενη Πέμπτη θα πάω να ακούσω RSO Stuttgart!

mahler76 said...

επιτέλους καλός ήχος στην Ε.Λ.Σ. έπρεπε να πέσει μαστίγιο για να παίξουν άλλα έστω κι ετσι...

derwanderer said...

Another bumpy night, yesterday , 14/3 .
Some (gay? leftist?) activists had called for a "Kiss-in" happening, in order to protest against the Orchestra's homophobic attitude ( THOSE incidents are discussed in the other Rusalka post).
I arrived quite early, prompted by Parsi who wanted pics for the blog. By, 7.20 pm, there were about 30 ot 40 activists there, distributing leaflets and stickers, the most inventive of which was a small bagde , " I KISS 'MEN' " or "I KISS 'GIRLS',to be put on the side of the heart.
Some funny slogans too, like the "classic":
"Judging sexualities of others, it is sily,
not even Virgin Mary's, who did it with a lilly"
"Hterofachism is just another trick,
the more we are in the bed, the more there is to pick".

It was about 7.45, whe the activists blocked instantaneously Akadimias av for the "Kiss-in", some kisses were exchanged, boys kissing boys, girls kissing girls, boys kissing girls. Nothing either "BIG" or "original", to be sure.

The main gate was thick now with people coming in for the performance. A member of the ELS staff invited ticket holders who were chatting with activists to proceed. AND THEN BANG!
Some, not all of the activists started shouting, " LET'S SRORM THE BROTHEL"! Get the crystalls down! The ambience got realy bitter, most of the activists were now i between the street and the lobby, between crystal doors. The security staff blocked the main lobby entrance not LETTIN ANYONE IN, BE IT TICKET HOLDERS, PROCEEDING MUSICIANS (!!!!!!!!) (no artist's enrtrance exists in the ELS) !!!. I got blocked there too, with terrified old ladies in purlpe hair and furs, activists, fellow opera goers, and 3 musicians. I got some REALY INTERRESTING INSIDE INFO ABOUT THE AMBIENCE IN THE ORCHESTRA! The time was passind, the air was getting thicker and hotter. It lasted about 20 minutes and, finally, when most of the activists, dissapointed not to ba able to get in and reasoned by the most cool headed of them withdrew to the street. Then we got in, one by one and under the scrutiny of securiry staff.
More there was to "happen" in the parterre. The delayed musicians and the spectators were takig their seats. Musicians were tuning. The 5 minute anouncement was being made, when the first horn (the player who had slapped the gay activist,and broken the rainbow flag during the 8/3 storming of the Gay Rights Activists.) Reminder : here:
http://www.tvxs.gr/v6901

The horn player got booed by 3 or 4 activists from the second balcony, ticket holders of course, as noone without ticket got in, of course. The horn player, angry, took his instrument and went out of the pit, with some other, no more than 3 or 4 collegues of his.
Now it was about 8.20 and the performance should have started by 8.00. Maestro Kyzling started negociating, backstage, for about some extra 20 minutes, 30 minutes and finally, the theatre anouced that "technical" problems were keeping the show from starting.
At 8.50, at last, maestro Kyzling, with a nervous rictus i his face steped in and he gave the beat. NO FIRST HORN THOUGH, in a piece that has a very important brass section! As I was sitting first row and have been discussing with cellos and violas about everything in a cool and friendly way, I can assure you that they were as sorry and as sad as we were about the fuss, the homophobic leaflets of the week before and tremendusly dissapointed about stage director's Wassermann attitude and " findings". They told me that Kyzlig was angry too, but his only veto to the staging was about some positions that preveted his sigers from comfortably singing...

Well to the musical part now - I WILL NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT THE UHEARD OF AND DEEPLY UNPROFESSIONAL, DEPPLY UN COLLEGUELIKE BEHAVIOUR OF THIS MUSICIAN, A PIECE OF S+++ REALY
Kyzling and the rest saved the night, offering us a deeply moving, albeit nervous rendition... A TRIUMPHANT LEADING TRIO IN
FULL GLORY AND A DISCIPLINED ORCHESTRA GAVE US A RUSALKA TO REMEMBER.

No mystery, the staging -NOT IMMORAL AT ALL- is as bad as any old fashioned one: Bad, confused, unpoetic, underworked, a disgrace realy, not for the kiss, but, unfortunately ALMOST EVERYTHING ELSE!!!
KUDOS KUDOS KUDOS to the 3 principals, AND maestro Kyzling (could have adeded to the orchestra too, but I am quite mad with them for letting all this to happen and not condemning firmly their Trade-union leader's hompphobic and unprofessional behaviour)
AND MAD AGAINST THE ELS STAFF WHO SENT FOR THE CURTAIN,ALTHOUGH THE TREMENDOUS APPALUSE WAS STILL ON AND THE SOLOISTS WERE PROCEEDING TO THE PROSCENIUM WHEN THEY -ALMOST- GOT IT ON THE HEAD!!!

WHO GOVERNS THIS INSTITUTION?

mahler76 said...

"WHO GOVERNS THIS INSTITUTION?"

it is on autopilot like the rest of the country...