Wednesday, 24 June 2009

An interesting stage play of Strauss and Zweig in Collaboration at the Duchess Theatre

It has been a few years since I last read Tim Ashley's biography of Richard Strauss.
The period after the fall of the Weimar Republic leading to the end of
World War II was difficult for Strauss - both creatively and
personally. After all, he had written his popular and successful operas by this stage and Hoffmansthal was dead. Therefore, it was fascinating to see Collaboration by Ronald Harwood at the Duchess Theatre where the relationship of Strauss and Stefan Zweig was portrayed.

Michael Pennington and David Horovitch played Strauss and Zweig respectively. The slightly overbearing Pauline Strauss was played by Isla Blair. The play had a very domestic setting - in sitting rooms, hotel rooms, etc. There were pensive moments as well as emotional outbursts.  The drama vividly portrayed how two creative men worked under the most difficult circumstances - their main output, Die schweigsame Frau, only had a tiny bit of airing. Many of the dialogues were necessarily conjectural, nonetheless it was a delight to see this period of Strauss enacted on stage.


Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Lulu

I have never seen Alban Berg's Lulu until tonight. It turned out to be very engaging. The storyline is thoroughly modern. The music / sound world is typical of that Viennese period (some of it reminiscent of very late Mahler and Strauss - though who am I to say). But the whole experience was very powerful indeed.

Agneta Eichenholz as Lulu was the true star of the evening, singing this very demanding part. Jennifer Larmore (the countess) and Klaus Florian Vogt (Alwa) were both superb at supporting the title role. Gwynne Howell's Schigolch was equally convincing. The orchestra of the Royal Opera played sonorously tonight - no doubt rising to the challenge of this thick and complex score. As one would expect, Pappano kept everything going throughout.


Monday, 8 June 2009

A joy to see Giulio Cesare (again) at Glyndebourne

I went to see Giulio Cesare at Glyndebourne yesterday. I remember it being a fantastic and creative production with a top notch cast. This time Sarah Connolly was the superlative Cesare; Danielle de Niese was the multi-talented Cleopatra, and Laurence Cummings kept up the tempo to bring this David McVicar productiong a joy to watch.