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2013-07, Munich, La traviata

La traviata

SK-Marina-Rebeka-c-Wilfried-Hoesl

Composer : Giuseppe Verdi
Libretto : Piave after Dumas fils
Venue and Dates : Bayerische Staatsoper, Munich
9 July 2013
Conductor : Dan Ettinger
Production Director : Günter Krämer
Sets : Andreas Reinhardt
Costumes : Carlo Diappi
Lighting : Wolfgang Göbbel
Chorus Master : Andrés Máspero
Performers:
Violetta Valéry : Marina Rebeka
Alfredo Germont : Saimir Pirgu (replacing Piotr Beczala who was ill)
Giorgio Germont : Simon Keenlyside
Flora Bervoix : Heike Grötzinger
Gaston : Kevin Conners
Baron Douphol : Christian Rieger
Marquis d’Obigny : Tareq Nazmi
Doktor Grenvil : Christoph Stephinger
Bayerisches Staatsorchester
Choir of the Bayerischen Staatsoper

Photo Gallery

Sound bites

José Mª Irurzun, Sean and Heard international, 12.7.13

” … Simon Keenlyside repeated the role of Germont, and again he showed his usual strengths and weaknesses. From my point of view, he is a great artist, his phrasing is elegant and he gives sense to the words in dialogues and arias, although his voice isn’t what we might call a Verdi baritone. In any case, if the most compelling part of the performance was the second act, it was due in large measure to his presence on stage. … The theater was fully sold out. The audience showed their enthusiasm at the end of the performance but were rather cool during it. Marina Rebeka as well as Simon Keenlyside were cheered at the final bows.”

Ilaria Badino, Corrieremusicale.it, 24.7.2013

” … Una prova maiuscola di Simon Keenlyside nell’allestimento di rassicurante routine del capolavoro verdiano …

Il principale motivo d’interesse dell’esecuzione era rappresentato dalla presenza in locandina di Simon Keenlyside quale Germont père: l’antidivo britannico, che sin a partire dagli anni Novanta, sotto l’egida di Abbado e di Muti, è stato interprete mozartiano di riferimento, ha da qualche anno virato verso il grande repertorio ottocentesco francese e, soprattutto, verdiano. I puristi direbbero – e, di fatto, dicono – che non avrebbe la voce giusta per cantare le opere del cigno di Busseto; inutile qui disquisire troppo a lungo di fantomatiche peculiarità canore spicce che si collocano oltre all’udibilità in tutti i settori del teatro, la necessaria estensione e la capacità di fraseggiare ad ampie arcate: Keenlyside le possiede tutte. Non ha avuto forse in dono una voce particolarmente rotonda e piena, ma di fronte alla totale padronanza del mezzo e, soprattutto, alla straordinaria attitudine scenica, non possiamo che toglierci il cappello. In qualsiasi parte si misuri, il baritono londinese lascia a bocca aperta per la naturalezza, degna dei migliori attori di prosa, con la quale sa riempire di pregnanza di significato ogni singolo sguardo, ogni singolo gesto o movimento, mai affettati ma, al contrario, essenziali, asciutti e non solo splendidamente pertinenti al contesto, ma anche latori di nuove codificazioni.

Da qualche anno Keenlyside sembra aver preso a cuore la causa verdiana, ed in particolar modo quella legata ai cosiddetti ruoli Varesi: Macbeth, Rigoletto e Giorgio Germont. Sperando di poter verificare personalmente l’esito nel primo in occasione del prossimo festival estivo monacense (quando nella temibile parte della Lady debutterà nientepopodimeno che Anna Netrebko) e nel secondo a data da destinarsi, constatiamo l’assoluto rilievo dei risultati raggiunti con il terzo. Se la resa musicale non è stata priva di pecche (ma, si sa, nei teatri d’area teutonica gli allestimenti ripresi vengono provati pochissimo dai nuovi cast che vi s’esibiscono), quali un attacco calante ed alcuni fuori tempo con la buca orchestrale, esse sono tuttavia perdonabili tenendo conto dell’incredibile intensità drammatica profusa nel tratteggiare un personaggio che, di solito, ci viene offerto in maniera monotona ed incolore. Il Germont di Keenlyside è assolutamente odioso nella continua esternazione del proprio autoritarismo da padre-padrone nell’avvicinare ed allontanare sia a e da sé che fra loro i suoi due figli (ebbene sì, non solo nella produzione di Grinda vista al Carlo Felice compare la chimerica sorella di Alfredo!), di modo da sortire sul maschio traviato effetti di ricatto psicologico; è ancora più detestabile perché, nel farlo, usa una gestualità scabra, secca, talvolta violenta, ma d’una violenza breve quanto stordente. Nel duetto con la protagonista, inoltre, dà finalmente ad essa un motivo concreto per farle pronunciare «Donna son io, signore, ed in mia casa»: la tratta da essere collocato al fondo della catena alimentare, prendendosi la libertà di sedersi dove vuole e quando vuole, come se tutto quello che lo circonda, esseri umani compresi, fosse di sua proprietà. Una prova maiuscola, insomma, da parte di un cantante-interprete che, ovviamente, i cartelloni italiani non contemplano più da tempo. …”

Translation by Gudrun

AN OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE BY SIMON KEENLYSIDE IN AN EVENING OF REASSURING ROUTINE

This performance was especially interesting because of Simon Keenlyside as Germont père: the British antidivo, who since the beginning of the 90s, in the era of Abbado and Muti, has been an exemplary interpreter of Mozart roles, has now turned to the great French and, above all Verdian, repertoire of the 19th century.

The purists would say, and in fact do so, that he does not have the right voice to sing the operas of the “Swan of Busseto”. It is useless to speak in great detail about all the famed mysterious peculiarities of singing which are usually mentioned in this context, in addition to the audibilty in all parts of the auditorium, the necessary projection of the voice, the ability to phrase wide arcs: Simon Keenlyside possesses all of them.
Maybe he has not been gifted with a particularly round and full voice, but we cannot but take our hats off to the total mastery of his vocal  resources and, above all, his extraordinary acting talent and his stage presence.
In whichever role you consider, the London born baritone makes you gape in amazement at the naturalness, worthy of the best dramatic actors, with which he can fill each single look, each single gesture or movement with significance; never affected but, on the contrary, essential, spare and not only splendidly relevant to the context, but bringing new meaing to the role.

For some years now Keenlyside seems to have taken the “case of Verdi” to heart, especially the so called “Varesi” roles: Macbeth, Rigoletto and Giorgio Germont. Hoping to be able to see with our own eyes how he manages the first one on the occasion of next year’s summer Festspiele in Munich (when Anna Netrebko will sing her first Lady Macbeth – a terrifying role!) and the second one on a date not yet fixed, we can say that the results reached in the third role are absolutely convincing.

The musical performance may not have been without some small flaws (one knows that in German theatres with reprises there are hardly any rehearsals for a new cast), such as a too low entry or some discrepancy in tempo with the pit. But these can be forgiven, taking into account his incredible dramatic intensity in sketching a character that is usually offered in a monotonous and colourless way.
Keenlyside’s Germont is absolutely hateful in the continuous expression of his authoritarianism as a father and master; trying to manipulate his two children (Alfredo’s sister also appears in this production), drawing them closer to and keeping them away from himself and each other, using psychological blackmail to achieve his goal with his son. And he is even more detestable because he does it using a repertoire of rough, brusque, sometimes violent gestures, but of a violence that is as short as it is shocking.
In the duet with the protagonist, he gives her a concrete motive to say “Donna son io, signore, ed in mia casa” (I’m a lady, sir, and in my home.): He treats her as if she was at the bottom of the social ladder (the food chain!), taking the liberty of sitting where and when he wants, as if all that surrounds him, including human beings, were his property.

Altogether a great performance by a singing actor whose name, obviously, has not appeared on the playbills of Italian opera houses for some time now.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

diana jones July 28, 2013 at 9:19 am

What a wonderful review! Thank you so much Gudrun, for your translation – SO much better than Google Translate!! The translations that service offers are usually harder to understand than the original language! I once read a Chinese review in which Google Translate had Simon’s name as Keenly Oceanside!!!

Diana.

Gudrun July 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm

Hi, here is the work of a hot afternoon, a rough translation of the Italian review. It seems Simon was a really good “bad guy” as Giorgio Germont 😉

Regards
Gudrun

Kew July 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

Hello SK team,

Seen and International has a review of Traviata at BSO last Tuesday.
http://www.seenandheard-international.com/2013/07/12/munich-opera-festival-2013-highlights-verdi-and-wagner/

The review gave us nothing new about Simon’s performance, but one of my opera friends saw it and e-mailed to me, saying that Simon looked rather tired. I thought it was because of his interpretation/characterization, though. Petra, assuming you were there, I wonder what you think about Simon’s Germont.

Cheers
Kew

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