Again, the Berlin Opera Group has unearthed two pieces that have fallen out of the canon. Once again, the conductor Felix Krieger bundled his best forces to bring the lost treasures over the ramp. Because what is not played remains unknown. And, that’s the vicious circle of the performing arts: it’s difficult for the unknown, especially when it comes to non-length-length one-act plays. Every opera-goer loves “La Traviata”, so you know what you’ve got. But who loves Silvia?
It starts with a magnificent piece of catchy tune. Pietro Mascagni invented it 126 years ago to introduce his sixth opera, Zanetto. This simple, self-revolving F major melody can be played by the orchestra, like an overture.
Or the choir sings them, in vocalises. Light and floating, that’s how it has to sound, then the song without words opens the door to the past. A light-hearted girl strolls at night in a Renaissance garden. It is tired of the life of luxury: “Damn be love!” With these words begins the feverish “Gran scena del delirio”, illuminated by all the colors of the late romantic orchestra, by the courtesan Silvia.
Narine Yeghiyan stepped in at short notice, she learned this dramatic role in just one and a half days. But it’s barely three seconds before she’s the center of attention with her diamond-clear, bombproof soprano and vibrant aura. Then true love enters the garden, in the form of the young troubadour Zanetto – a prime role for the beguilingly sensual and sonorous mezzo-soprano Yajie Zhang.
The way the two approach each other and swarm, savor the ups and downs and then tragically have to part because Silvia generously renounces and denies herself, that’s a festival of great voices – and a great piece! Even if the image of prostitution has since been thoroughly de-romanticized, the discourse on the impossibility of true love, masterfully gilded with music by Mascagni, still has power and validity.
The same applies to the relationship to the addictive factor nicotine, nowadays he is no longer really capable of making jokes. Despite this, Ermanno Wolf-Ferrari’s two-person play “Il segreto di Susanna” from 1909 is still occasionally performed in opera houses. It tells of the emancipation of a wife who, addicted to cigarettes, ignores her husband’s smoking ban.
The roles are all too thankful and virtuoso, the orchestral treatment is almost too good to be true. From the trills of the woodwinds and the solo passages of the fabulous concertmaster (Yulia Smirnova), enchanting blue smoke rings rise when Susanna (Lidia Fridman) relaxes casually and lyrically. Brass and double basses rage like mad with the baritone tirades of the jealous husband (Omar Montanari), who is enchantingly and drastically assisted by his mute servant (Guido Lambrecht). standing ovation