Nachdem in Mozarts «Idomeneo» die Probleme der Welt auf der Bühne verhandelt wurden, kehren die Salzburger Festspiele zu Glamour und Star-Spektakel zurück: Anna Netrebko triumphiert als Diva in Francesco Cileas «Adriana Lecouvreur».
Salzburg - Vielleicht ist das sogar die ehrlichere Variante. In einer Zeit, in der Stars für Opernproduktionen maximal zwei Probenwochen zur Verfügung stehen, weil sie sonst andernorts Lukratives verpassen, kann das Szenische auch gleich weg. Wobei: 140 000 Mini-Kristalle einer österreichischen Edel-Firma, eingewebt in drei Roben (Nixengrün, Rot-Ton-Explosion mit Blätter-Applikationen, changierendes Trauerschwarz), die mit Dauerwallen und Laufsteg-Wandeln nebst passend geschmerzter Mimik vorgeführt werden, das geht locker als Gala-verträgliche Regie durch.
In Wien hat man Anna Netrebko in Francesco Cileas „Adriana Lecouvreur“ schon in szenischen Aufführungen gesehen. Bei den Salzburger Festspielen ist sie in dieser großen Divenpartie nur konzertant zu erleben, was natürlich den Vorteil mit sich bringt, dass man sich Proben sparen kann. Wer Netrebko kennt, konnte aber schon erahnen, dass sie dennoch eine große Show zeigen werde.
The Royal Opera House’s Il Trovatore is a war opera. Black and grey colours dominate. You will see tanks, machine guns, campers, smoke, wooden crosses, fires burning and, yes, passions raging. This is David Bösch’s modern-dress interpretation of Giuseppe Verdi’s opera. A bit of torture and war crimes can be gleaned but the final tableau will be a huge, fiery heart that could be interpreted as the triumph of love through death.Leonora, the woman who loved him to death does a much better job in the hands of Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian. Dressed in dramatic white amid the gloomy colours of the others, she sang with emotional conviction and dramatic effect. Georgian mezzo-soprano Anita Rachvelishvili outdid everyone as the gypsy Azucena. “Stole the show” is the catchphrase that comes to mind but that would be unfair and untrue. She did not steal it – she earned it. She delivered an outstanding performance in an admittedly marvellous role and the audience just loved her. Rachvelishvili has a marvellous, smoky voice that can spew venom and passion as she single-mindedly pursues vengeance. One enjoys every minute of her presence on stage.Ukrainian bass Alexander Tsymbalyuk deserves praise for his performance in the relatively minor role of Ferrando. He is the fine officer who carries out orders and Tsymbalyuk sang with commendable sonority.Il Trovatore is a highly approachable opera despite its somewhat turgid plot. It has some great melodies and between love duets and martial music it makes for opera the way most people imagine it to be. Bösch gives us a far more nuanced production and puts his imprimatur on the opera. That is what directors must do. The Orchestra of the Royal House Opera and Royal Opera Chorus were conducted by Richard Farnes in an exceptional night at the opera.
In the title role, Elena Maximova disappointed. She has the looks and moves for the part, power to burn and the right sort of dark colour in the voice. But a thick accent was allied to awful diction, with hardly a consonant intelligible all evening. I spent the evening struggling to work out the words from a combination of memory and back-translation of the surtitles, and that kills any possibility of being swept away by siren-like sexuality, which is required to make the whole opera plausible. Just like the singing, the orchestral performance was mixed. Bertrand de Billy kept things moving nicely and strings and woodwind gave good, precise performances: the prelude to Act III, when they’re playing on their own, was the orchestral highlight of the evening. But there were simply too many errors and hesitancies in brass and percussion: this is a score where anything less than immaculate timing of triangle or tambourine notes can throw the whole flow of the music. The result was an orchestral performance that was adequate without ever touching greatness. Zambello’s staging is appealing: her take on 19th century Seville is well lit and bustling, very much one’s ideal of a Hispanic city in the burning sun gathered from Zorro movies or elsewhere. But it gives a lot of rope on which a revival director can hang himself: there is a huge amount of movement on stage and it all needs to be executed crisply. Under the revival direction of Duncan Macfarland and choreography of Sirena Tocco, last night’s cast and chorus were good enough to execute it all correctly, but not good enough to give the sense of doing so with abandon. The defining example was extras abseiling down the walls, who landed with care rather than with a thump and a flourish; the exception was the Royal Opera Youth Company, with the children throwing themselves into the action with delightful abandon and brio. For anyone seeing Carmen for the first time, this production will have been a more than satisfactory evening. Old hands hoping to see something extra will find it in Hymel and Car, but not elsewhere.