The Stigmatised – what it could mean? How will Krzysztof Warlikowski interpret the score which is almost 100 years old, and have been as popular and highly regarded in Germany, even compared with masterpieces of Wagner? As an explorer, I have not invested much time in preparation, and have not heard the opera before, so there were no expectations either of staging or interpretation. The Stigmatised also can be translated as The Branded – and in fact, initial impression view of the stage established this association permanently.
The premiere of Die Gezeihneten was the premiere for Munich Opera Festival this year, and the red carpet was rolled out to welcome prominences and give an opportunity to local newspeople to photo hunting. The author is almost unknown nowadays, thus also for me, the evening was promising a lot of new discoveries.
The stage greets us with immense mirror, providing the audience the opportunity to find themselves and greet in the reflection. This reminds of recent production of “Iphigenie en Tauride” in Paris, Palais Garnier, and was not the only self referential approach used by stage director and his crew. Thus, the initial greeting is placing me in this crowd which can be branded as “opera aficionados” – see yourself in the mirror, if you don’t believe it.
The storyline of the opera revolves around a nobleman from Genoa, Alviano Salvago, who, being disfigured but wealthy, has created his own paradise Elysium. The place represents the beauty of the world through art and exhibits and provides all possible means to indulge in human pleasure. There is no love in his life, and no friendship, as people he deemed close, are the first ones to turn against him. The promise of love is fleeting and brings suffering and death, as his adored Carlotta prefers Tamare – and dies. Alviano, being an outlier, has tried to become part of the tribe by means of his understanding, but the attempts fail with tragic consequences.
Franz Schereker (1878–1934), Austrian composer, conductor and teacher, has been one of the starts of the early 20th century, and his work was as popular as those of Richard Strauss and Richard Wagner. Unfortunately, he has fallen into The Stigmatised world, since national socialists forbade his music, and he literally died of the broken heart. Some of the musicologists evaluate his work as a genius, and the revival of forgotten heritage has started. Undoubtedly, the music for “Die Gezeichneten” is passionate, lyrical and very rich in orchestration, and it is one of the works I would gladly to hear again.
The production of Krzysztof Warlikowski, as usual, is full of quotes from literature and, especially, the cinematography of the period. It is well known that Franz Schreker recognized influence of cinema on his works and personality. For me, or any person distant from Western cultural tradition of 100 years back, some of the references were hard to decipher, thus several of the citations used were lingering on for some time afterwards. It was a time when horror movies, like Golem and Frankenstein, captivated people attention.
As a fleeting example – the image of deformed Alviano resonates with “The Elephant Man” (1980) of David Lynch, as well as imagery of common people are borrowed from “Rabbits” (2002) as a verbatim visual quote. Some of the images are borrowed from contemporary art – either reminding Tilda Swinton or Marina Abramovich performances at the MoMA. The video projections complement narrative and lighten up acting demands for singers.
The cast was comprised of strong, dedicated performers, which provided a number of pleasant surprises and discoveries. First and foremost, John Daszak as Alviano vocally and dramatically carried the whole weight of the performance. His extensive, spoken monologue in the opening of Act 2, in German, was delivered with mastery and confidence of world class dramatic actor, especially, taking into account that it is not his native language. The singing was well suited to dramatic requirements, with an even tone, also well blending into the ensemble.
As mentioned before, there have also been some discoveries and pleasant surprises, – in the case, I have expected an impressive performance from Tomasz Konieczny, while Christopher Maltman significantly over exceeded expectations both vocally and dramatically. He managed to construct his character with a multitude of vocal colours and support it with credible and enthusiastic acting, thus even taking over the central role of the performance.
Another pleasant surprise was Catherine Naglestad as Carlotta, she sang with warm, burnished tone and created fragile, yet passionate heroine.
The chorus was one of the main protagonists of the night, they wore rabbit heads in admirable discipline and delivered uniform and beautiful sound. Part of the ensemble’s success was unquestionably created by Ingo Metzmacher, who led orchestra and singers with drive and sensitivity. The premiere performance was enthusiastically greeted by the audience, and just a few unhappy patrons were easily overtaken by numerous “bravos”.
It is a pity that next performances are scheduled for May 2018, with the same outstanding cast, but with a different conductor. It is a work of art worth to see, thus get ready to order tickets timely!
The Stigmatised. DIE GEZEICHNETEN
Opera in three acts
Composer Franz Schreker · Libretto by Franz Schreker
Munich Opera Festival
Saturday, 01. July 2017. Premiere
Conductor Ingo Metzmacher
Director Krzysztof Warlikowski
Sets and Costumes Małgorzata Szczęśniak
Lights Felice Ross
Choreographer Claude Bardouil
Video Denis Guéguin
Dramaturgie Miron Hakenbeck
Choir Sören Eckhoff, Kinderchor Stellario Fagone
- Herzog Antoniotto Adorno Tomasz Konieczny
- Graf Andrea Vitellozzo Tamare Christopher Maltman
- Lodovico Nardi Alastair Miles
- Carlotta Nardi Catherine Naglestad
- Alviano Salvago John Daszak
- Guidobaldo Usodimare Matthew Grills
- Menaldo Negroni Kevin Conners
- Michelotto Cibo Sean Michael Plumb
- Gonsalvo Fieschi Andrea Borghini
- Julian Pinelli Peter Lobert
- Paolo Calvi Andreas Wolf
- Capitano di giustizia Tomasz Konieczny
- Ginevra Scotti Paula Iancic
- Martuccia Heike Grötzinger
- Pietro Dean Power
- Ein Jüngling Galeano Salas
- Dessen Freund Milan Siljanov
- Ein Mädchen Selene Zanetti
- 1. Senator Ulrich Reß
- 2. Senator Christian Rieger
- 3. Senator Kristof Klorek
- Diener Milan Siljanov
- Kind Solist/en des Tölzer Knabenchors
- Ein riesiger Bürger Milan Siljanov
- Dienerin Niamh O’Sullivan
- 1. Bürger Gintaras Vysniauskas
- 2. Bürger Tobias Neumann
- 3. Bürger Burkhard Kosche
- Vater Yo Chan Ahn
- Mutter Ida Wallén
- 1. Jüngling Thomas Briesemeister
- 2. Jüngling Oscar Quezada
- 3. Jüngling Sebastian Schmid
- Kinderchor Kinderchor der Bayerischen Staatsoper
Chorus of the Bayerische Staatsoper