Sunday, 1 April 2012

Brahms, Brahms, Brahms, Brahms, Brahms

And almost nearly Brahmzzz, which is not what I expect from the Gesang der Parzen and Nänie, and certainly not from Cornelius Meister. Still, the Wiener Singakademie were great. Click here to read what I wrote for Bachtrack and see a great photo they chose which I’m captioning ‘Dracula’s paedophilic younger brother’.

That was on Thursday. On Friday I went to Tosca at the Staatsoper – the improbable one with Nina Stemme and Franz Welser-Möst. A 
Plácido-channelling José Cura – not that he managed to channel any of Plácido’s better qualities, mostly sounding just crass – and Stemme’s volume made for over-the-topness which threatened at times to outdo Tosca’s inherent over-the-topness, starting with a ‘Mario! Mario!’ straight out of the Dolmio ad. As limited compensation for the lack of subtlety there were Stemme’s efforts to do something interesting with characterization (she wears the trousers in the Cavaradossi household but keeps Tosca fairly level-headed in what was compellingly stated feminist reading). Franz Welser-Möst also seemed to have ideas but didn’t execute them with anything approaching Stemme’s clarity: the opening chords were a heavy and thick wall of sound held for an eternity, Puccini à la Bruckner, which promised delicious subversive fun, if only Franzi had followed through rather than leaving the upper hand there for Cura to take (which he did). Ultimately the evening sounded mostly rudderless, as Stemme was more co-operative, allowing things to calm down again, but without any audible sign of control regained in the pit. The Phil were superb but for all the hearty playing they weren’t able to find the sound and phrasing Welser-Möst was looking for after he dropped the Bruckner act, though only, I think, because it was to be found lurking dubiously in the aural equivalent of Südtirol.
Marco Vratogna, a solid Scarpia

Margarethe Wallmann’s 1958 production is, I believe, the oldest on the Staatsoper’s books, and yet it seems a good twenty years younger than Schenk’s 1968 Rosenkavalier both in look and spirit. Go figure.

Image credit: Michael Pöhn / Wiener Staatsoper

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