This gripping performance of Beethoven’s only opera stems
from last year’s Lucerne Festival, where it was given a
semi-staging in the magnificent acoustics of the city’s Kultur
Claudio Abbado’s command of the
score and its structure is consummate, the atmosphere palpable
through his perceptive application of orchestral colour. The
detail he elicits from his hand-picked Lucerne Festival
Orchestra is phenomenal, the blend of sonorities aglow, the
clarity of texture refined with a masterly touch.
likes to work with artists he knows well, and in the realms of
singers, as with orchestral players, he chooses from the higher
echelons. Jonas Kaufmann as Florestan might not appear until Act
Two, but it is worth the wait for his anguished crescendo on
“Gott! Welch Dunkel hier!”.
Kaufmann sings gloriously,
and with lyrical lustre as gleams of hope lighten his
crepuscular world in “Euch werde Lohn”.
Leonore is a perfect match, the mix of tenderness and resolve in
her voice giving Act One’s “Komm, Hoffnung, lass den letzten
Stern” a potent urgency. There is sharp characterisation, too,
in Falk Struckmann’s Pizarro, his malevolence intense in “Ha!
Welch ein Augenblick”.
The chorus is superb, bringing
rays of wonderment to the prisoners’ glimpse of sunlight.
Stellar as the participants might be, there is always the
feeling this is an ensemble production with Abbado’s firm hand
of humanity in inspiring control.