Monday, February 14, 2011

REVIEW: Die Liebe der Danae (Berlin) by the Deutsche Oper Berlin


Deutsche Oper Berlin (Berlin), Saturday February 5

After seeing this production, now I have a better understanding why this opera is not as popular as Richard Strauss' other works. The opera, a concoction of comedy and Greek mythology, lies heavily on three main characters (Danae, Midas and Jupiter), and the vocal demand on them to make this opera flies is vicious. Despite some of the most beautiful Strauss music, they are dominantly gravitated toward the third (final) act.

Manuela Uhl, Matthias Klink


This Deutsche Oper Berlin production by the out-going Indendantin Kirsten Harms, has translated the greek mythology into modern times (1940s?). This is my third opera in Berlin in a week and all three operas (Die Hochzeit des Figaro, Antigona, Die Liebe der Danae) so far were set in modern times, which is fast becoming traditional or norm. Obviously, by translating something of the past to something modern doesn’t necessarily mean innovation anymore and definitely doesn’t guarantee success. In fact in such productions, I have lowered my standard and just hope that the modern set doesn’t interfere with the story development too much; and forget any hope of enhancement a lot of times.

Mark Delavan

In general, this production is stylish in an interesting way. King Pollux, Danae’s insolvent father, was represented by having his creditors cart away his possessions. A piano was hoisted upside down and it remained that way for the whole opera. A lot of the stage movements involved the clutching of an orchestral score by the King and the gathering of music sheets by Danae. All these seem to mirror and comment on relationship between the opera and Strauss as it was only after his death (1949) that the first public performance was held in 1952.



Conductor Andrew Litton made the most of the gorgeous music and kept a fine balance to ensure that the singers are heard. Manuela Uhl was a fine Danae and paced herself carefully in this treacherous role. Matthias Klink as Midas sang with beautiful lyricism; and despite a smaller instrument, his voice was focused and effortlessly cut through the pit. Mark Delavan was a proud and virile Jupiter with a voice to match. For some added spice, the four queens (Jupiter’s ex-lovers) were delightful. In general, this was the best of the three operas I have seen that week, but will definitely not be a highlight of my opera life.

_____
Die Liebe der Danae
Humorous mythological tale in three acts
by Richard Strauss

Creative Team:
Conductor - Andrew Litton
Director - Kirsten Harms
Stage design - Bernd Damovsky
Costume design - Dorothea Katzer
Dramaturge - Andreas K. W. Meyer
Light design - Manfred Voss
Chorus master - William Spaulding
Artistic production manager - Christian Baier

Cast:
Jupiter - Mark Delavan
Merkur - Thomas Blondelle
Pollux - Burkhard Ulrich
Danae - Manuela Uhl
Xanthe - Hulkar Sabirova
Midas - Matthias Klink
Four Kings - Paul Kaufmann, Clemens Bieber, Nathan De’Shon Myers, Hyung-Wook Lee
Semele - Hila Fahima
Europa - Martina Welschenbach
Alkmene - Julia Benzinger
Leda - Katarina Bradic
Chor der Deutschen Oper Berlin
Orchester der Deutschen Oper Berlin

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