My first encounter with Fromenthal Halévy and La Juive in opera exploration adventure was approached with care: I have consciously avoided watching premiere streaming and tried to keep away from reviews, except occasional tweet from either enthusiastic or disappointed spectators. This might have paid off since I arrived for performance without any expectations.
One of the most intriguing thoughts were around the new production by Calixto Bieito, and again I have only highest praise for his conceptual, graphic but very expressive visual solution, as well as usage of chorus as one of the main protagonists, as most memorable example – chorus becoming mass of executioners with abundance of hatred flowing through movements, sounds and presence. Part of the concept is very smartly conveyed through the usage of colour and costumes – Rachel is actually the only one outlier, being able to stand her convictions and not being afraid of consequences, thus her bright green dress serves well in the mass of grey – both people and scenery.
Aleksandra Kurzak as Rachel positively surprised, I have heard her in live performance as well as recordings mostly in bel canto repertoire, thus listening to her even in the first act, it was clear that her voice has matured and rounded, and is on the path to becoming more dramatic, and suited for heavier, like Verdian repertoire. Even more impressed I was by her stage presence and engaged acting, and I believe we have another diva in making – have to keep close attention to Aleksandra’s future roles and progress!
Roberto Alagna has a role that fits him perfectly well, even if in some moments it seemed that top notes are coming with some strain, – he delivered vocally and dramatically impeccable, convincing and truly believable character, with suffering and tenderness, torn between love, faith and survival. The finale as per Neuenfels keeps us wondering about his fate though..
One of the most impressive appearances of the evening was classical bass: Ain Anger, delivering the role of Cardinal Brogni with confidence, velvety, flowing tone and impressive, thunderous sound.
New name discovered, even if heard before – John Osborn, his tender tenor, ease of delivering, convincing acting – certainly a name to remember and follow up. Another discovery of the night was La Princesse Eudoxie Vera-Lotte Böcker, who excelled in the portrayal of the princess under distress.
Overall, this was one of the productions which made the trip to Munich into an unforgettable experience – and on top of that, had also collected autographs of Roberto and Aleksandra, and found out that both are very modest and friendly off stage – a pleasant wrap-up of the evening!
Conductor Bertrand de Billy
Production Calixto Bieito
Sets Rebecca Ringst
Costumes Ingo Krügler
Video Sarah Derendinger
Lights Michael Bauer
Rachel, Éléazars daughter: Aleksandra Kurzak
Le Juif Éléazar: Roberto Alagna
Léopold, Reichsfürst John Osborn
La Princesse Eudoxie Vera-Lotte Böcker
Le Cardinal Jean-François de Brogni Ain Anger
Ruggiero Johannes Kammler
Albert Tareq Nazmi
Ausrufer des kaiserlichen Heeres Christian Rieger