Magazine article Opera Canada

Austria: Salzburg

Magazine article Opera Canada

Austria: Salzburg

Article excerpt

The Salzburg Festival's production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier made a case for the point that money can't solve all your problems. An all-star cast including Canadian Adrianne Pieczonka (the Marschallin), Angelika Kirchschlager (Octavian), Franz Hawlata (Baron Ochs), Miah Persson (Sophie), Franz Grundheber (von Faninal) and Piotr Beczala (Singer) was complemented by 90 or so musicians from the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, a chorus of over 30, around 100 extras, a horse and a huge production staff, with Canadian Robert Carsen as director.

However, the production had a number of problems, the first one surfacing immediately. There was little sense of line to the "Einleitung" as Semyon Bychkov furiously conducted its micro-details. The VPO responded with a raucous tone, an unwelcome harbinger of things to come. In fact, throughout the evening, the cast struggled to be heard over Bychkov's unsympathetic direction.

Vocally, Kirchschlager was the weakest link. Some of her low notes were gnarly, her upper tones metallic. Persson was radiant, and Beczala impressed with his excellent tenor voice. Both Grundheber and Hawlata were quite ample in tone. So, too, Pieczonka, who was easily the strongest vocally. Her sound was creamy and her diction exemplary.

Carsen's direction caused some consternation. He set this Rosenkavalier not in pompadoured Rococo Vienna, but in the early 1990s. On stage, four partitions evoked the Marschallin's chambers. …

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