Posts Tagged ‘Bo Skovhus’

Fall Discs

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

Recommended CDs and DVDs

Published: November 26, 2017

MUNICH — Post is under revision.

Photos © Arthaus, BelAir Classiques, Querstand, Supraphon, Warner Classics

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Die Fledermaus Returns

Sunday, January 31st, 2016

Bo Skovhus and Marlis Petersen as the Eisensteins in Bavarian State Opera’s Die Fledermaus, December 2015

Published: January 31, 2016

MUNICH — Three years ago Bavarian State Opera’s yearly Silvester performances of Die Fledermaus came to a sudden, poorly excused halt. Never mind that they were a global signature of the company; Carlos Kleiber famously led ten of them. As substitutes, the powers-that-be provided La traviata (Verdi was 200) and then, weirdly, L’elisir d’amore. But last month the bat returned, courtesy of GMD Kirill Petrenko, who, it turns out, is as much a fan as Kleiber and a tautly disciplined but supple musical advocate. Indeed he conducted gleefully Dec. 31 and Jan. 4 yet with his customary, at times martial, intensity, the carotid arteries alarmingly discernible — which did not preclude ballerina-like poses, hands high, fingers pointed together, for stylish delays in Johann Strauss’s three-four time. The orchestra sizzled. The chorus sang with astonishing precision and expressive warmth, not least for Brüderlein, Brüderlein und Schwesterlein. Oozing charm and impeccable in their comic timing as the Eisensteins were Marlis Petersen and Bo Skovhus. She sang, also danced, a seductive table-top Klänge der Heimat, ending on the eighth-note high D, as written, although less than forte. Anna Prohaska brought moxie and what may have been a fine Lower Austrian drawl, not much volume, as the “Unschuld vom Lande.” Edgaras Montvidas contributed an ardent, grainy-sounding Alfred, Michael Nagy a mellifluous Falke, mezzo Michaela Selinger a game but too-bright-sounding Orlofsky; her party guest, Thomas Hampson, in town to prepare for Miroslav Srnka’s costly new opera South Pole, interpolated a lavish Auch ich war einst ein feiner Csárdáskavalier … Komm, Zigan, spiel mir was vor. Missing, alas, was the magnetic Alfred Kuhn, long a definitive, droll Gefängnisdirektor Frank here (also Antonio the gardener and Benoît the landlord); in context, Christian Rieger looked and sounded awkwardly robust. Andreas Weirich’s rethinking of the old Leander Haußmann production worked best in Acts I and II. The cramped jail action sputtered, and Viennese actor Cornelius Obonya, a Salzburg Jedermann, went on too long as Frosch; he will be replaced this coming New Year’s Eve by a Bavarian.

Photo © Wilfried Hösl

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See-Through Lulu

Saturday, June 6th, 2015

Marlis Petersen and Dmitri Tcherniakov rip into a münchner Breze

Published: June 6, 2015

MUNICH — After the genetic mismatch of Kirill Petrenko and Gaetano Donizetti here, it was a relief to watch the conductor easily navigate and ignite the tone rows of Lulu last week (May 25 and 29) at the National Theater. Happily he did so using Cerha’s reconstitution of Act III and supported by an eloquent, virtuosic Bavarian State Orchestra, now truly his orchestra twenty months beyond the systemic jolt of the handover from Kent Nagano.

The GMD conveyed the differing compositional powers of each act almost entirely through soft, finely balanced ensemble, favoring transparency. Where the music rose dynamically, as in his ardent account of the palindromic Act II Zwischenspiel or the pithy societal interjections of the Paris scene, its contours and colors palpably stunned the capacity audience.

For these reasons alone these were luxurious traversals of Berg’s stimulating, exacting, 185-minute score. They revolved, though, not around Petrenko but upon the musicianship of the charming and beautiful Marlis Petersen, 47, who drew rapturous applause at evening’s end.

Meek early on, she sang out fully in the anti-heroine’s Act I duettino with the Painter (Rainer Trost on vivid form) and gauged her sound with Lied-art intelligence — but a diva’s command of the stage — from that point forward. The bright firm voice sailed into the house with greater body of tone than many a Lulu, shaded emotionally and locked into Berg’s text.

Having first essayed the role sixteen years ago in Kassel, Petersen has developed crisp, moving inflections for its unaccompanied dialog and Sprechstimme, and on these nights she fashioned from every last morsel the composer provides a gutsy, honest, amusing, vulnerable and above all integrated portrayal.

Daniela Sindram had a harder time making an impact as the pivotal Gräfin Geschwitz in this new production. In fact the mezzo barely stood out at all because director Dmitri Tcherniakov (pictured with the soprano) put her in pants, muting her sexuality and defeating the counterforce Berg intended to the men around Lulu. (Has Tcherniakov only this narrow grasp of what it means to be a lesbian?)

But she sang expressively, with a golden, even timbre, purity of line and good diction, and she capped her interrupted London monologue with a ravishing Lulu! Mein Engel! That last outpouring endured the distraction of Lulu’s death on stage, contrary to Berg’s plan, and so the drama ended out of kilter as the tempos slowed, and anticlimactic.

Lyric tenor Matthias Klink introduced a sweet-toned Alwa whose volume lessened in high-lying phrases. Bo Skovhus, as his father and Lulu’s lethal client, made a perfect foil for Petersen, magnetic of gesture and clever in pointing the text, even if his tenorial baritone lacked ideal resonance. In the supporting roles, besides Trost, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke’s mellifluous turn as the Marquis stood out.

Like most productions at Bavarian State Opera nowadays, this Lulu will look its best through camera lenses rather than from a seat in the theater. Tcherniakov sets all scenes in one static grove of glass panels, much as he locked us in a gray seminar room for his last work here, Simon Boccanegra. Glass of course is an upgrade: it affords depth, allows vivid use of light and overcomes staging challenges, such as when characters scenically snoop. But only the panning and zooming of cameras can make up for missing spectacle in this case.

During Berg’s several Zwischenspiele — intended for scene changes tracing Lulu’s progress and retrogression — the director populates the background panels with stiffly animated mimes, like mannequins in shop windows. Perversely, given today’s common use of projections, he offers no film for the Filmmusik, but a roving spotlight signals its crucial midpoint.

Placement of the panels forces most of the crowd in the Paris scene behind glass, and Tcherniakov drably lines everyone up in a row. Otherwise he strongly shapes and moves the individual characters and, with the one misstep of Geschwitz’s costuming, engages the viewer convincingly, avoiding cliché and graphic violence.

Today’s performance of Lulu, the fourth in a run of five, streams live at noon, New York time, at (Although named “Staatsoper.TV,” the service is not accessed at that domain.) Three performances are scheduled for September, when Petrenko hands over to Cornelius Meister.

Photo © Wilfried Hösl

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