Sunday, December 6, 2009

A long weekend in Frankfurt, day 1: La Boheme

Frankfurt Oper, 3 December '09

This old Alfred Kirchner production of La Bohème, with a long life of about 12 years (opened during the 1997/98 Season), opens and closes in an empty warehouse, bricks on the walls, no furnishing, just a stove (alas, poor director that had to compromise with Illica & Giacosa and have at least the stove on stage). Everybody is standing and moving around, the only moment that they actually take a seat (not literally- they just sit on the floor and use newspaper as a table) is at Schaunard's arrival with the yummy-basket.

Act II opens at some unidentifiable place featuring an irish pub (or something) on the left, and what was obviously left from a previous Carmen production on the right, a horse, a carriage, some children sitting on the floor doing absolutely nothing, not even when Parpignol arrives with his toys - the credit crunch has most probably been very harsh on their parents and Parpignol will end up selling wurst at the Römerberg Christmas Market.

Act III is also very interesting, we have the same ol´irish pub moved to the right, a barrier in the middle, and a booth on the left. A soldier comes out of the booth and takes a leak facing the booth and marking his area. And this is the very place where Mimi will spend most of Act III, no wonder why she gets worse by Act IV.

Act IV and we 're back at the warehouse. No surprises here. Everything goes according to the
Murger/Puccini/Illica&Giacosa plan.

All Production Photos (c) Oper Frankfurt, w. Alfred Kim as Rodolfo

As stated various times via this humble blog,
it's the music and the voices we (I?) mainly go to the Opera for.
Get over it, dearest regisseurs.
And there's no better revenge for any euro-regie
than a fine cast of singers.

Gianluca Terranova, in his unique appearance as Rodolfo at the Oper Frankfurt, was a credible Rodolfo, apparently not coping with the rest of the cast on stage due to scarce or no stage rehearsals, and with an interesting piena di italianitá voice. However I found the upper register fabbricata, the high notes were penetrating and unpleasant and at times lacked control. In any case the audience loved him and bravoed him loudly.

Catherine Zeta ooops, I mean, Elaine Alvarez

Elaine Álvarez displays a voice of heavenly beauty and a rare vocal material. Nevertheless, "Mi chiamano Mimí" did not impress me. I could hear the voice wanting to blossom and reveal all its nuances but that did not happen during the aria. We finally got to hear Álvarez' precious voice in all its extent in Acts III&IV. And there it was: a glowing, colorful, round voice that Alvarez used effectively, making most eyes water.

Aris Argiris was a pleasure to hear and watch, a stage animal, a hyper-energetic Marcello who sang with charm and charisma, exemplary frasseggio and articulation and who didn't hesitate to sacrifice his volume and projection at times in order to create a more credible portrayal.

Argiris & Alvarez für parsifal´s

Juanita Lascarro, not the typical hysterical Musetta, was a perfect match to her Marcello. Her transition from the Morticia Addams look-alike femme fatale to the compassionate, tender, devastated Musetta of Act IV was the work of a great actress while her Waltz was that of a very good singer.

Thorsten Grümbel

Kudos to Sungkon Kim and Thorsten Grümbel for their well sung Schaunard and Colline, and to Franz Mayer for a fine Benoit.

Erik Nielsen opted for rather dull tempi, sometimes missing the sparkle and the wittiness that Puccini´s score demands in Act 1 and 2, however I heard some exquisite melodic lines in Act 3 (that as you may have guessed was my favourite one).

The Orchestra. Well, what can be said of the Frankfurter Opern-und Museumsorchester. In this and the next performances I attended, I had nothing but praise for what (apparently) is the Opernwelt “Orchestra of the Year”.

Curtain calls:

Next: La Clemenza di Tito in Christof Loy's heretic production

Argiris & Lascarro on the walls of the 2nd floor foyer of the Frankfurt Oper


Myfawny said...

Heard Alvarez as Mimi in Chicago, what a beautiful, warm voice!

NHB said...

Goodness, looking at the sets for Act I and IV did they lose the scenary and have to do it on a bare stage?


Parsifal said...


don't interfere with the genious stage-director's perception. heheh.