Otello at Staatsoper Munich - Botha/Pieczonka - 25.07.2009

......This was my first time at the Bayerische Staatsoper. I liked it from the moment I stepped inside. It's as big as many other opera halls in Europe. But it's more luminous. Because the chairs are made of white wood. So it's not only red, like ROH or Scala. The pit is huge too. A lot of space between instruments. From up there where I stood in the first night I could admire its beauty.

......The first night we got to Munich we went to see Otello by Giuseppe Verdi. It's the first time I see it on stage and from the beginning to the end. I only saw some pictures on the internet, some walkways and a big red... thing hanging.

Conductor Bertrand de Billy (I saw him before, conducting Faust at Staatsoper Vienna)
Production Francesca Zambello
Revival director Nico Trees
Set and Costumes Alison Chitty
Choreography Alphonse Poulin
Lighting Mimi Jordan Sherin
Chorus Andrés Máspero

Otello Johan Botha
Jago Lucio Gallo
Cassio Wookyung Kim
Rodrigo Francesco Petrozzi
Lodovico Steven Humes
Montano Christoph Stephinger
Ein Herold Igor Bakan
Desdemona Adrianne Pieczonka
Emilia Enkelejda Shkosa

The Bavarian State Orchestra
The Chorus of the Bavarian State Opera

......I knew before getting there that all the productions (or most of them) in Munich are modern. Oh, well. The singers went very well. From the vocal point of view, I mean. Mr Gallo hesitated a little bit at the beginning, but during the second part he succeded in making a good Iago. The opera has many beautiful parts. Afterall, it's Verdi. So no comments about music and singers.

......I had a problem with the production itself. Couldn't understand it. Normally the action takes place in Cyprus, 15th century. What I saw in front of my eyes seemed more a building site. What was with the walkways? There were three of them crossing the stage. Poor singer had to climb them and stop to sing from time to time. It was bad for those like me standing at the second or third floor. That upper part of the stage where they were coming from is restricted view. At some point the lower part of the walkway was moved from it's initial possition on different parts of the stage. While Iago was on top of it singing. Why? The costumes can be located in 1920s or so. ok, they matched the gray of the walkways. But in the last act Otello appears in sort of white dress that made me go back in time, closer to the original period.

......Part of the plot takes place inside the castle. This "inside" was created by lowering a grid. And a lot of moments took part on the right side of the stage. As I was on the right side too, I couldn't see anything. I think the director should have considered good visibility for everybody in the hall.

......The acting was not brilliant either. maybe it was influenced by the sets, I don't know. Just a few examples. Otello has a dialog with Iago. And in the end he suddenly falls on the stage. Just like that. Out of the blue. As if he had a heart attack. In the end both Otello and Desdemona die. He strangles her first. She seems to be dead. After a few moments she raises her head, listen to the conversation, sings a little bit more, and dies again, as if she remembered being strangled previously. Weird. His death is even worse. He has a long knife in his hand and makes the gesture of cutting the neck. Then he seats next to her bed, cries... and so on... and after 5 minutes he dies. That was supposed to be a sudden death? In a modern production this moment should have seemend more real. For me it was funny.

......Coming back to the voices, there were some powerful moments. Such as the duet between Otello and Desdemona in the first act, the duet Otello Iago and Desdemona's aria in the final act. I haven't said anything about Casio. The gentleman has a good voice. But he was supposed to be in love with Desdemona... he should have tried more.

The cast at the end of the first part

Lucio Gallo
Adrianne Pieczonka

Johan Botha

Bertrand de Billy

......During the interval there were some pieces of paper in chairs and tables announcind that Mrs Pieczonka and Mr Botha will sign autographs in a certain place inside the opera. We went there to see how things are going on. There were two tables set in the hallway and about 25 people lined up waiting for them to come. I think I prefer waiting for the artists at the backstage. Maybe it's just me.

...... It was a fine evening. I'll go see Otello again in the future. But I'll chose a traditional production. Just to see the difference.

Also modern productions are different one from the other. See here how Luisa Miller was.

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1 comment:

  1. Tell me about modern stagings! Sometimes they work perfectly, sometimes you can't even fathom what on earth the director was thinking! (I saw a Puritani last year that was awful, the sets were entirely composed of metal with braille, which was supposed to signify the strictness of the world in which Elvira was caught up - oh, and they let Arturo die in the end, which was not exactly accurate either)

    The building is indeed beautiful! I went to see Cavalli's La Calisto a couple of years ago there. Unfortunately, I had a standing place at the extreme left and upper balcony, and I could see only a quarter of the stage, so I had no idea what was going on there. And the music wasn't thrilling enough to keep me around until the end (Cavalli is an almost entirely forgotten baroque composer), so that was the only time to date I left before an opera was over!