«Ha! What a Moment!»
Semi-staged and all-musical: Beethoven's «Fidelio» brought a very special opera production to the Tonhalle Zürich.
There are different types of dungeons. Those with dark dungeons, heavy doors and jailers. And others, inner ones: for Beethoven, for example, his deafness was a prison. His poor hearing isolated him from others, it forced him into solitude. His desire for love remained unfulfilled – unlike Florestan, the protagonist in his only opera «Fidelio»: he is freed at the end thanks to his Leonore, who smuggles herself into the dungeon disguised as a man.
Eva Buchmann, the director of our semi-staged production of «Fidelio», has placed these parallels between life and work at the centre of her interpretation. Few gestures and props were enough to tell the story. And between the musical numbers, Stefan Kurt read excerpts from Beethoven letters and the Heiligenstädter Testament. A delightful idea, the «Neue Zürcher Zeitung» found in its review of the performance.
And the music itself, which was also recorded for a CD? The NZZ praised the gripping dynamics developed by the orchestra under Paavo Järvi: «The tempi are flowing throughout, the accents sharp and the tone as rough as in French revolutionary music of that era». The vocal ensemble was also top-class, with Michael Schade as Florestan, Christof Fischesser as Rocco, Patrick Grahl as Jaquino – Shenyang as Don Pizzarro could have sung his «Ha! Welch ein Augenblick!» for their performance as well.
In addition, there were two singers who were enthusiastically celebrated not only by the audience. To quote the NZZ once again: «Katharina Konradi's youthful Marzelline is simply ravishing. And when Jacquelyn Wagner lets the dreaded Leonoren aria culminate so radiantly effortlessly in the exclamation 'Mich stärkt die Pflicht der treuen Gattenliebe!', one gets an inkling of how Beethoven must have imagined it: the visionary liberation of the man through a 'holdes Weib'.»