Hindemith-Lion, Cardillac (1926 version). Wiener Staatsoper, 17/10/10. New production premiere directed by Sven-Eric Bechtolf with sets by Rolf Gilttenberg, costumes by Marianne Glittenberg, lights by Jürgen Hoffmann. Conducted by Franz Welser-Möst with Juha Uusitalo (Cardillac), Juliane Banse (Die Tochter), Herbert Lippert (Der Offizier), Ildiko Raimondi (Die Dame), Matthias Klink (Der Kavaliere), Tomasz Konieczny (Der Goldhändler).
Sven-Eric Bechtolf’s production finds the perfect visualization of this score. As mentioned earlier here, his source is silent film. This shows up in the black-and-white color palette (the only other colors are gold, of course, and a few bits of red) and in the stiff, stylized gestures of the whole cast (well, most of them). The numbers of the score naturally become separate scenes. Like silent film is drained of its sound and color, the naive, non-psychological opera and its detached music are missing something: a third dimension, an aura. The primitive, stiff visual language makes the music more potent rather than less, giving it a concentrated and economic energy.
check out his Lulu, also conducted by Welser-Möst.)
Herbert Lippert also found great success as the Offizier, also with a lyric voice that rose to the climaxes, for the most part. All of the cast was on the lyric side, actually, which would not have been a problem had Franz Welser-Möst kept the (fairly lightly-scored) orchestra down more, but just about everyone got drowned out at some point or another. Juha Uusitalo’s voice made a bigger impression here than it does at the Met, but he still lacked variety of color and his Cardillac was still a black hole of presence. He also did not seem to have internalized the same gestural language as everyone else. Alas. A great Cardillac could have tipped this production from very good to super.
In smaller roles, Matthias Klink and Ildiko Raimondi as an early Cardillac victim and his ladyfriend nobly fought the orchestra and slinked around with great style. Tomasz Konieczny was once more the loudest low male voice onstage as the Gold Dealer. The excessive orchestra sounded terrific, playing with surprising violence and bite, contrary to their usually-genteel style.
Judging from the number of personalities other people in the standing room were pointing out (I didn’t recognize most of the names), this was quite the social event. It got a very enthusiastic ovation at the end, particularly for Lippert, Welser-Möst, and the production team. No boos that I could hear. A very good night for the Staatsoper.
There are four more performances: October 20, 23, 27, and 30. The 23rd will be broadcast live on ORF.
Photos copyright APA.
Next: I bought a ticket for Tuesday’s Salonen/Mahler Philharmoniker concert, which in the meantime has metamorphosed into a Welser-Möst/Bruckner concert. Nothing against Welser-Möst, but that's a bait-and-switch, Philharmoniker. You know I hate Bruckner. Not sure if I will blog about this one or just grumble about it privately.
Also, did someone say there's a Jonas Kaufmann recital at the Konzerthaus on Wednesday? OH YES THERE IS.