Magazine article Gramophone

OPERA: WINNER Fabio Luisi Leads a Winning Performance of Berg's Opera

Magazine article Gramophone

OPERA: WINNER Fabio Luisi Leads a Winning Performance of Berg's Opera

Article excerpt

When Christian Gerhaher came to the title-role in Berg's masterly setting of Buchner's play the outcome was always going to be a major event. Just as Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau was the definitive Wozzeck for his generation, so his successor as the outstanding Lieder singer at the start of the 21st century has assumed his mantle in this role, too.

Scrupulously sung, acted with a gentle honesty, Gerhaher's Wozzeck is vulnerable, plaintive, in short all-too-touchingly human. It is exactly what we expect from him that there should be an eloquence to his every utterance. Is it right that Wozzeck should come across as something of a poet? Yes, because the music adds its own poetry, and Gerhaher draws from it an expressiveness that pierces the heart.

Homing in on the opera's expressionist style, the director, Andreas Homoki, has set it in a puppet theatre, part commedia dell'arte, part Punch and Judy, a make-believe world of ritual cruelty. This is not the only way to play Berg's opera, but the geometric designs are striking, the colours (that sickly yellow!) are gruesomely vivid, and Gerhaher, above all, is placed in a visual frame of extraordinary clarity.

This is a high-class ensemble all round. Gun-Brit Barkmin is a fascinating Marie, charismatic like a young Anja Silja. …

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