Posts Tagged ‘Kirill Petrenko’

Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, a second view, December 2009.

24 December, 2009

This was my second view, on the last night of the run, and although Soile Isokoski was clearly better in Act I than she was on the first night, I found the whole performance underwhelming. Once again it was Lucy Crowe as Sophie who was the star of the evening, along with Peter Rose as a refreshingly young looking Baron Ochs, behaving like an ill-mannered frat-boy. I’m afraid I just wasn’t wowed by Ms. Isokoski as the Marschallin, nor by Sophie Koch as Octavian. In Act III it was Lucy Crowe who really pulled at the heart strings, showing how devastated her character Sophie felt by the evening’s charade. Yet it should be Octavian and the Marschallin’s moment. Octavian nearly tripped when stepping backwards, and his/her complete lack of reaction to this emphasised just how much the movements were unnatural and choreographed. However the trio at the end was gloriously sung, and well worth waiting for.

As for the conducting, there was plenty of variety from Kirill Petrenko in the orchestra pit, and I liked the colouring of Act I, with the disharmonious noise in the levée scene contrasted with other parts of that act. But I felt that some of the high points in the opera went missing, particularly the entrance of the Marschallin in Act III. Admittedly, Soile Isokoski lacked the required stage presence, but this is where the orchestra should really raise our emotions, and it failed to do so.

This production of Rosenkavalier is a good one, and I look forward to seeing it again at Covent Garden. As Octavian they might consider hiring Daniela Sindram who was outstanding in February 2009 in the production I saw at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin. I would also love to see Kate Lindsey do the role if she adds Strauss to her repertoire, having just seen her as a very fine Nicklausse in the Met’s Hoffmann.

Review — Der Rosenkavalier, Royal Opera, December 2009

8 December, 2009

Wonderful period sets and costumes for this 1984 production by John Schlesinger, revived by Andrew Sinclair, are the background for an enchanting evening. With Russian conductor Kirill Petrenko giving Strauss’s music more colour than I ever remember hearing, this was a musical feast. The star of the show for me was Lucy Crowe as Sophie, the girl whose wealthy father wants to marry her off to the nobility in the form of the boorish Baron Ochs. He was very well sung by Peter Rose, who gave him just the right nuances, without going over the top. As the knight who rescues Sophie from this appalling mismatch we had Sophie Koch as a strong-voiced Octavian, but I would have preferred more masculinity in her portrayal. She compared unfavourably in this respect to Daniela Sindram, whom I saw doing the same part in Berlin earlier this year, but the presentation of the silver rose and the duet with Sophie in Act II was beautifully done. The Italian intriguers, Annina and Valzacchi, fed up with getting no payment from Ochs, turn to assist Octavian in taking him down a peg or two, and were very well played by Leah-Marian Jones and Graham Clark. In this production we see Octavian actually writing the letter to Ochs at the rear of the stage. This was all very well done, and I thought Act II came over brilliantly, helped of course by the simply wonderful set.

The audience seemed enthusiastic about Finnish soprano Soile Isokoski as the Marschallin, but the friends I know who liked her were seeing this opera for the first time. Having seen far better Marschallins, such as Anne Schwanewilms in Chicago in February 2006, I’m afraid I was underwhelmed. I found her voice too harsh in Act I and she lacked finesse and flirtatiousness with Octavian, though she certainly sang well in the trio at the end of Act III. Unfortunately, Lucy Crowe who had sung so well in the last two acts, seemed to tire right at the very end and lost her pitch, but this was the first night. The other disappointment was Thomas Allen as Faninal, Sophie’s wealthy father, who was surprisingly lacking in stage presence and vocal gravitas. But Wookyung Kim as the tenor in Act I  sang like a god.

Altogether this was a success, and it may be that some of the weaker points will be corrected in later performances. Watch this space two weeks hence.