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What an opera night on the Green Hill of Eutin! The production of Giuseppe Verdi's "A Masked Ball" by the outgoing artistic director Dominique Caron was an experience. The intensity and musical splendour of this production reached a level that even large opera houses rarely offer. And even the weather played along: It remained dry.
"A Masked Ball" is an opera that is difficult to stage. It is extremely lacking in action except for the last scene, tension can actually only be achieved through the music. Dominique Caron and her stage designer Jörg Brombacher succeeded in achieving an enormous effect with the limited means at their disposal.
Debris on stage
The director kept her actors in motion whenever possible, the ramp singing so frequently experienced in this opera was very rare. The stage design was based on stylized picture frames. The ruins of the largest covered the stage floor, a symbol of the fragility of social conditions. On the other hand, it was also an indication that liberation from social constraints had already begun.
In the background of the stage, changing elements were used, tarot cards, ruler portraits, from which the paint flaked off: there is something lazy in the state in which the story takes place. A story that mixes political revolt with an unhappy love affair and that must end tragically. And which depicts all persons as people who cannot escape fate. This becomes most obvious in the ball scene at the end, in which the ruler Gustavo is murdered. The ballroom scene is bathed in blood-red light, the drama seems inevitable - here director Dominique Caron is very close to Verdi's music.
This stage design alone is impressive proof of what can be done on the Eutin lake stage. For in the second act Jörg Brombacher included trees and bushes as the background of the play - a great use of the natural conditions on the Green Hill of Ostholstein. Martina Feldman's costumes were strictly rococo-style and harmonious. Here, too, the details were inspiring.
Musically this production was beyond all doubt. Hillary Griffiths conducted the magnificent Lübecker Kammerphilharmonie at his old place of work with a lot of skill and feeling, he guided singers precisely and gave them space and breath. That was excellent to listen to. The choir rehearsed by Romely Pfundt sang and played in a highly professional manner - this was not always so good and impressive in Eutin.
Loving and sad as death
But the musical highlight of the evening was the young Danish soprano Signe Ravn Heiberg in the role of Amalia. She used her pleasantly timbred soprano, which never sounded sharp even in the high register, extremely skilfully. She was convincing as a lover, as a sad mother, as a desperate one: in addition to her singing performance, she also impressed with her acting skills and commitment. Such a centred and precisely guided voice is seldom experienced with such young singers - this was also an experience on this evening.
Angelos Samartzis as Gustavo was her equal partner. He is also a singer who knows how to lead his tenor voice elegantly and confidently. He also reached the exposed tones effortlessly, in the low registers his voice was well-founded. Tomohiro Takada as Renato also offered a strong performance, he could credibly convey the changing states of mind of the tragic figure he embodied. Milana Butaeva was a wonderful fortune teller and witch. She began somewhat uncertainly in the depths, but increased tremendously. Her stage presence and her acting quality made these easy initial problems quickly forgotten.
In the trouser roll
This "masked ball" was excellently cast up to the smallest side shots. In these it was Hale Soner in the trouser role of the Oscar who distinguished himself. Her singing and her playing captivated by diversity and straightforwardness. Milcho Borovinov and Philip Björkqvist convinced as conspirators, Jeunggeun Choi as Christiano and Masanori Hatutse (judge) and Luis Araos-Gutierrez as servants as well.
Dominique Caron has succeeded with this production at the end of her time as Eutiner Intendantin a great litter. A great opera evening, full of emotions, musical and dramatic highlights: Opera on Eutin's Green Hill can offer nothing more. The audience applauded and cheered this fabulous "masked ball" enthusiastically at the end.
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