Magazine article Opera Canada

Austria: Vienna. (INTERNATIONAL)

Magazine article Opera Canada

Austria: Vienna. (INTERNATIONAL)

Article excerpt

The Vienna Staatsoper's production of Donizetti's Roberto Devereux--the first in the company's history--was one of five new productions offered during the 2000/2001 season.

The single unit set, designed by Silviu Purcarete, resembled the interior of an opera house, with several rows of galleries and a slightly askew Royal Box in which Elizabeth Rex made occasional appearances. Following Devereux's beheading, Purcarete's enormous set broke apart horizontally, with the top portion rising and disappearing into the flies and the bottom section sinking beneath stage level, graphically underscoring the fact that Elizabeth's world (after the death of the only man she has loved) was literally torn apart.

As for Helmut Sturmer's direction, it proved to be largely pedestrian and uninspired. Much of his staging consisted of the endless drawing and closing of heavy, red-velvet draperies across the various galleries. Sturmer also had his chorus outfitted as English stereotypes, complete with black bowler hats, black topcoats, black ties and shoes, each carrying a black umbrella. Behaving with cartoonish English reserve, they frequently sat in red velvet chairs or stood impassively along the various galleries as they watched their history unfold before them. …

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