|Der Rosenkavalier - Opera North - Helen Sherman, Mark Burghagen and Henry Waddington |
Photo Credit: Robert Workman
Reviewed by Robert Hugill on Nov 9 2016
Words to the fore, engaging and vital revival of David McVicar's production.
We caught Opera North's latest revival of David McVicar's well travelled production of Richard Strauss's Der Rosenkavalier at The Lowry, Salford Quays on 9 November 2016. The production originated at Scottish Opera and was first performed by Opera North in 2002, we previously caught English National Opera's performances of the production in 2008 and 2012 (see my review).
Opera North's current run of performances of Der Rosenkavalier represented Aleksandar Markovic's first outing as the company's musical director, adding extra added interest to the performances. David McVicar's production, designed by McVicar and Tanya McCallin, was revived by Elaine Tyler-Hall, with Ylva Kihlberg as the Marschallin, Helen Sherman as Octavian, Henry Waddington as Baron Ochs, Fflur Wyn as Sophie, William Dazeley as Faninal, Jung Soo Yun as the Italian tenor, and Victoria Sharp and Aled Hall as the Italian intriguers.
|Fflur Wyn, Ylva Kihlberg, Helen Sherman|
Photo Credit: Robert Workman
Markovic's approach to the prelude was almost hectic, you sensed that he took the orchestra to the brink of the possible, but the result successfully incarnated the carnal activity that is being depicted, complete with some fabulously orgasmic horn whoops.
Whilst none of the principals was native German speaking, what I noticed about the performance was the sense of drama in the dialogue, and the primacy of the word. Partly because Markovic kpet this flowing at a lively pace, which meant that the conversational passages were vivid rather than dallying over incidental delights.
None of the principles has what might be called a luxuriant voice, yet all the women (Ylva Kihlberg, Helen Sherman, Fflur Wyn) had great character and a distinct timbre. Markovic took advantage of this to bring out the lively conversational drama. This was a performance with few of the longeurs sometimes attendant on Der Rosenkavalier, and all three acts (including the closing scenes of Act Two) sped by. I have heard more luxuriant Der Rosenkavalier performances but rarely one which was so vital and involving.
|Henry Waddington, Fflur Wyn - Photo Credit: Robert Workman|
As Octavian, Helen Sherman made a wonderfully surly and almost brattish young man, very much on his dignity and with emotions which turned on a pin. Sherman aptly captured the right physical language to encapsulate the awkward boy. This was time I had heard Helen Sherman in a late-Romantic role, previously I have heard her in Monteverdi, Donizetti and Mozart. She does not have a large-scale instrument and instead brought an attractive litheness to the part, singing with a warm flexibility and nice intensity. At the very top, her voice developed an interesting flutter under pressure which suggested that heavier roles are still some way off.
|Helen Sherman - Photo Credit: Robert Workman|
Fflur Wyn made a wonderfully feisty Sophie, poised and controlled by bristling and simmering inside, quite the little spitfire. She sang with light focused tone, spinning a lovely line which emphasised the character's youth. So the presentation of the rose was a gorgeous mix of two different but complementary voices. The final trio and duet was extremely expressive, made all the more telling thanks to the detailed psychological interplay which had gone before it. This revival was full of sharply focused little dramatic details which contributed to the whole.
Henry Waddington was a delightfully selfish and pompous Ochs. Waddington had a nice ear/eye for comedy so that the Act Two hi-jinks worked well, but there was never doubt that Ochs was Baron Ochs, a nobleman. His retinue might be a rag tag mixture but he kept his bearing. Waddington sang the memorable waltz in Act Two with a lovely smile in his voice, but there were also occasions when the extremities of his voice lost focus..
The supporting characters were all very strong and it was nice to see so many stepping out from the Opera North chorus. William Dazeley made a surprisingly strong Faninal, and his big outburst in Act Two really told. Though neurotic, he made the character more sympathetic than some, less fussy. Jung Soo Yun was an admirably firm toned Italian tenor, Victoria Sharp made much of the duennas big Act Two solo, but also brought out a nice line in non-verbal communication during Sophie and Octavian's subsequent dialogue. Helen Evora and Aled Hall were a vivid pair of Italian intriguers, making the most of these gifts of roles.
Richard Strauss - Der Rosenkavalier
Opera North at The Lowry, 9 November 2016
Marschallin - Ylva Kihlberg
Octavian - Helen Sherman
Baron Ochs - Henry Waddington
Sophie von Faninal - Fflur Wyn
Herr von Faninal - William Dazeley
Marianne - Victoria Sharp
Valzacchi - Aled Hall
Annina - Helen Évora
Italian Tenor - Jung Soo Yun
Leopold - Mark Burghagen
Mohammed, the Marschallin's servant - Durassie Kiangangu
Police Commissioner - Dean Robinson
Marschallin's Major-domo - Graham Russell
Faninal's Major-domo - Ivan Sharpe
Notary - Jeremy Peaker
Innkeeper - David Llewellyn
3 Noble Orphans - Rachel Mosley, Cordelia Fish, Hazel Croft
Pet Seller - Warren Gillespie
Dressmaker - Miranda Bevin
Conductor - Aleksandar Markovic
Original Director - David McVicar
Revival Director - Elaine Tyler-Hall
Set Designer - David McVicar
Costume Designer - Tanya McCallin
Lighting Designer - Paule Constable
Language Coach - Rahel Wagner
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- Scientific theory: Magnetite from Emily Howard on NMC - CD review
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- From Tom and Jerry to Madama Butterfly I chat to conductor John Wilson - Interview
- Sisters are doing it for themselves: Recent recordings of girls choirs - CD review
- Climax worth waiting for: Simone Piazzola at Rosenblatt Recitals - concert review
- As the composer intended: Stravinsky's Mass from Edinburgh - CD review
- Wonderful record of a treasured performer: Alexandra Dariescu in Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 - CD review
- Admirable introduction: The Sixteen explores Edmund Rubbra's sacred music - CD review
- A sort-of opera which fails to ignite: And London Burned at Temple Church - Opera review
- Intertwining of music & science: Galileo at Brighton Early Music Festival - music theatre review