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Freitag - Kulturredaktion

FAITH TO FACE

SUOR ANGELICA by Puccini

Premiere review
First education project of the Berlin Philharmonic under its new "boss" Kirill Petrenko


Now Kirill Petrenko will gradually be able to ennoble the Education Programme of the Berlin Philharmonic, initiated 16 years ago by Sir Simon Rattle, with his "own contribution" - last night he succeeded in doing so for the first time in a stunning way in Puccini's Suor Angelica (under the meaningful working title "Faith to Face").

Briefly explained:

"These performances [...] also combine several aspects of the mediation work which the Berliner Philharmonic and Kirill Petrenko have taken up as their banner: In addition to the promotion of promising young musicians, these include in particular the idea of getting people of all ages and backgrounds enthusiastic about classical music through joint projects. With the line-up of soloists from Berlin's music academies and scholarship holders from the Karajan Academy, highly talented outstanding young musicians are given the opportunity to work intensively with a world-renowned conductor and an experienced team of directors. The adult amateur singers of the project choir have undergone a demanding selection process in the run-up to the event and can thus gain a certainly unforgettable artistic experience together with the children and young people of the vocal heroes in a highly professional setting". (Source: berliner-philharmoniker.de)

The orchestra podium is recessed, so that the visual impression of a somehow existing orchestra pit is created, just like in the opera. In front of it there is a two-part, elongated white seating unit in which - for each of the 12 nuns and/or novices of this very maudlin and "in spirit" annoying one-act play by Giovacchino Forzano - just as many sliding box compartments have been punched in by the overall designer Oliver Proske. Behind and above the orchestra, an equally two-part LED panel travels back and forth, on which the large-face shots of the singers can be seen simultaneously (i.e. live) in razor-sharp HD. The performance begins with a whimsical and actually quite faceless piano prologue "based on motifs by Giacomo Puccini", composed and played by Matan Porat - while the protagonists enter their place of action, stylized as a nunnery; it looks as if they have just joined the confederation of the church, as they are about to exchange their clothes from their pre-civilization for those of their new prison; the costumes were made by Nicola Hümpel, who also directed the performance.

Ann Toomey sings and plays the title role, and she peels herself out of the circle of her companions - in Hümpel's view, this nunnery could also have been sacrificed to a charitable women's shelter of our days - as the most emancipated of her peers; not only because she stands at the end of the opera nude quite self-confidently for her self-determined suicide! And anyway, her soprano sounds silky soft on the one hand, brutal on the other; the real mixture that is needed for Puccini.

This scenic idea by Hümpel is also brilliant:

The expected big performance by the princess (highly ingenious: Katarina Dalayman, her voice still totally intact and in inconspicuously black manager design! ), which starts with her live filmed limousine drive to the main portal of the Hans-Scharoun-Building, continues with her walk through the foyer and her stair climbing towards the "stage entrance", where she finally conquers the hall for herself, culminates, has extra bite and is of ominous quality! / The opera ends in such a way that after Suor Angelica's endlessly fading, breathy finale, all you see is the Dalayman, who has meanwhile disappeared back into the foyer, where she pours herself a glass of wine...

The orchestra with the scholarship holders of the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic performs Petrenko's mostly quiet, calm, balanced and therefore completely "unhectic" view of things - partnerships don't get any more compatible than this, and who was most inspired by whom?

My God, it was all great and beautiful!

Andre Sokolowski, 02.02.2020

 

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