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Životopis  Ainārs Rubiķis took up his position as Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin at the start of the 2018/19 season. Latvian-born, he came to international attention as winner of the 2010 Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition. The following year, he was recipient of the second Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award...read more

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Askonas Holt

Životopis  Ainārs Rubiķis took up his position as Music Director of the Komische Oper Berlin at the start of the 2018/19 season. Latvian-born, he came to international attention as winner of the 2010 Gustav Mahler Conducting Competition. The following year, he was recipient of the second Nestlé and Salzburg Festival Young Conductors Award...read more

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Askonas Holt
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  • Repertoár (17)
Skladateľ a prácaRolaInscenácie
Bizet
CarmenConductor4
Dvořák,A
RusalkaConductor4
Eggert
M - Eine Stadt sucht einen MörderConductor1
Enescu
OedipeConductor2

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Die Zauberflöte is a work whose outward simplicity masks internal complexity and even contradictions. Mozart’s music is childishly tuneful and yet reaches for the classically sublime; Emmanuel Schikaneder’s libretto alternates a magical quest story out of a German storybook with Masonic claptrap and secondhand Voltaire. For a children’s opera, its message occasionally goes off the rails; for Enlightenment philosophy it seems silly (and its treatment of race and gender hardly progressive). Contemporary stage directors approaching this piece have many options, as well as challenges. This new production at Berlin’s Komische Oper performs daring surgery on Flute: it reconfigures the Singspiel as a silent film. Directors Suzanne Andrade and Barrie Kosky replace the spoken dialogue with a few projected titles of text as the cast freezes between sung numbers. It might seem a gimmick, or an acknowledgement of the oft-stated opinion that Schikaneder’s spoken dialogue is long-winded and tiring, but it’s actually only the beginning. The technologically audacious, faux-naïve style of 1920s cinema proves an inspired lens (so to speak) for this work’s quirky tone. Produced with the British theater collective 1927 (named after the year of The Jazz Singer and led by Andrade and Paul Barritt), the production mixes the live singers with colorful, inventive, and often very beautiful animations that render the entire thing somewhere between an opera and a cartoon. The visual field is flattened into a white screen, with the singers occupying only an extremely narrow strip in front of it, as well as various vertically elevated points on it, courtesy of a shifting series of doors and ledges. (A paradox of this production is that its magic would be very difficult to appreciate on DVD.) The animations are the real star of the show, and they are a constant delight. Fortunately, 1927 did not try to reproduce an actual silent movie, but rather came up with something both modern and retro. The images are mostly line drawings rather than realistic video, and the style is whimsical and often very funny. Papageno is followed by an angular black cat, Tamino is actually swallowed by the dragon, and declarations of love are usually accompanied by many anatomically accurate hearts careening across the screen. The Queen of the Night is an enormous, angry spider, her animated legs covering the entire wall. Esther Bialas’ costumes recall the Expressionist Weimar cinema of the 1920s (particularly the Three Ladies), though Papagena’s showgirl outfit suggests the shows that were occupying the Komische Oper’s theater – then known as the Metropol-Theater – at the same time. In a nod to the work’s retrograde gender politics, Pamina is dressed in a Victorian gown while she, as a woman, must forgo the trials that Tamino undergoes. To be sure, this approach does come with some sacrifices. The stage has no equivalent of film’s close-up, and the singers are often overshadowed by the animations at the expense of character development. One notable exception was Nicole Chevalier’s Pamina, who found heightened expressivity in her sharply held poses and focused stare (aided by a Louise Brooks bob). Many of the others seemed comparatively bland – Papageno would seem a natural for a Charlie Chaplin or Buster Keaton treatment but ended up passive, and Sarastro was a particular blank as well. As for the giant question of Meaning, the production provides few answers, and is more interested in an adventure. (The six-year-old girl sitting next to me vocally loved every second of it.) When the villains are vanquished and Sarastro emerges triumphant, the final chorus is sung without animations, in front of the red curtain. It’s suggestive, but if this signifies anything, it beats me. Musically, the production was respectable and enjoyable if not particularly outstanding. Kristiina Proska led an assertive, energetic, sometimes almost aggressive orchestra, though balances were good. Chevalier’s clear and bright soprano took vocal honors as well as acting. Peter Sonn was a stalwart and even-toned Tamino. Julia Novikova nailed most of the Queen of the Night’s coloratura, though she sounded less formidable in the lower-lying parts of the role. Alexey Antonov was a light-voiced and unmemorable Sarastro, and Tom Erik Lie a perfectly well-sung but strangely understated Papageno. Die Zauberflöte is a very familiar work, but this is a fresh and charming take that never stops surprising.
Zerbinetta
For a first return to “direct”, the Bolshoi Rusalka , which entered the house's repertoire only in 2019, has no shortage of good surprises. The first, which unfolds throughout the show, lies in the astonishing blend of classicism and modernity of Timofei Kulyabin's staging . The customary Bolshoi spectator has the comfort of discovering, in the first act, a forest setting straight out of the romantic imagination, planted with trees with bare branches that twist on stone clumps above a waterfall. , inhabited by dryads dressed in blue tulle and a witch with a white, fleecy cape. A space-time opens up when Rusalka becomes human and loses her voice: she reappears on this same waterfall, sunk in a blue cinema armchair, pecking popcorn and sipping a soda through a straw, in front of the audience. Rusalka's first lesson will therefore be that human life is not another fairy tale, punctuated by princes and palaces, but a dive into a less canonically romantic modernity. But Rusalka's learning doesn't stop there. Her marriage to the prince takes place behind the scenes of a pink marble palace, with a small fountain decorated with a plaster mermaid (where the viewer has the impression, by the way, of being lost in the corridors of an opera). The ballet of the second act is the parade of ajet set very with the scent of the 2020s (and the taste of Moscow). Rusalka, sadly awkward in her wedding dress, then understands that the human being is cruelly social, that it is not enough therefore to have a body, even a soul, to integrate his society, but that it is necessary to master it. the codes ! The break between the real and the phantasmagorical worlds is now over. In the third act, the singers rediscover their folk costumes and their forest decor, under which, instead of the waterfall, a human double from Rusalka is dying, lying on a hospital bed, behind a curtain of rain. Like the duplication imagined by Robert Carsenfor his staging at the Paris Opera, Timofei Kulyabin installs two parallel shots, but impermeable: to the singers of the forest, perched on their rocks, actors wandering in hospital corridors will respond synchronously, as if to emphasize the parallel, and the divide, between a magical world, full of song and poetry, and a real world, silent and prosaic. But the surprises also concern the song, where the excellent passages are not always what one expects. The ode to the moon by the soprano Dinara Alieva leaves nothing to be desired : no delicate modulations, diminuendi , little velvety sighs; his voice seems cut from the same block. But this block is a solid support that she uses convincingly to get carried away at the end of the second act, at the end of a marriage from which she comes out humiliated, or in the darker and more solemn tunes of the third act, as if his voice acclimated more to drama than to romance. Oleg Dolgovalso lacks nuances to express the tensions of the prince, viscerally attached to Rusalka but carnally magnetized by the foreign princess. He struggles against himself with a certain ardor, sparing some beautiful passages, in particular his farewell to Rusalka in the third act, but without giving the character the thickness that is due to him. However, we can fully understand his tension between sublime love and physical desire when Maria Lobanovaenters the scene, in the role of the foreign princess: perched confidently on high heels, her blonde curls cascading down her generously open cleavage, her flaming roars send chills! The Lithuanian singer perfectly illustrates the opposition that structures the work: in Rusalka, water; to her, fire! The orchestral conduct of Ainārs Rubiķis , pleasantly regular, seems to play on this alternation of elements. Directly sprang from the rocks on which he appears, surrounded by the three dryads, the voice of Mikhail Kazakov, playing Vodnik, is undoubtedly the best of this set. Powerfully projected, expressive, with a grain of rock which perfectly suits the character of this father figure mixed with tenderness and severity, his outbursts of anger in the first act give him the air of Wotan in front of Brünnhilde, and the “rescue” of his daughter in the second act constitutes the lyrical climax of the show! Mikhail Kazakov thus gives importance to the relationship that Rusalka has with his father, to the detriment of the prince. Finally, the last good surprise of this show is the trumpeting voice of Yulia Mazurova in the small role of the marmiton (here a henchman of the prince). As Vaclav Jamek wrote, emphasizing Rusalka's inscription in the lyrical tradition of his predecessors: “Dvořák's penultimate opera barely hangs on the 19th century: completed in 1900, premiered in 1901, it would even be a work between two centuries… ”. Timofei Kulyabin's staging makes it here an opera between two waters: head in the clouds of a deliciously supernatural world, feet mired in a disappointing human reality of materiality.
Max Yvetot

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