Magazine article Opera Canada

Belgium: Brussels

Magazine article Opera Canada

Belgium: Brussels

Article excerpt

In Lulu, Berg created one of opera's great starring roles, written largely above the staff up to a high D and involving treacherous coloratura. To say that Barbara Hannigan sang this with breathtaking precision, that her voice is clear and ringing and that she is also stunningly beautiful would only be to repeat the unanimous praise she amply deserved for her role debut at the Theatre de la Monnaie (seen Oct. 30). What was even more compelling to me was her absolute fearlessness, her willingness to follow Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski's masterful direction right to the edge of Lulu's abyssal decline.

Each character in Lulu has a distinctive series of notes as the basis for their music and a 'specific family of instruments to identify them. Each role is extremely challenging vocally. Torn Randle as the Painter (here a video artist) was in top form vocally and Natascha Petrinsky, as the Countess Geschwitz, summoned: a rich, moving tone, especially effective in her aria as she dreams of emancipation for herself and her beloved Lulu.The excellent German baritone Dietrich Henschel's voice proved too light for the role of Schon, but .Charles Workman interpreted the fragile Alwa beautifully.

Warlikowski brought Berg's personal biography into his staging in two young girls who served as prototypes for Lulu--Berg's illegitimate daughter, Albine, and Alma Mahler's daughter, Manon (to whom Berg dedicated his Violin Concerto following her death at 18 from polio). These were represented in the staging by the youngest members of the Koninklijke Ballet School from Antwerp, and reference Lulu's profession as . …

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