Bachtrack, 23 novembre 2019
Par Matthew Rye
Korngold: Die tote Stadt, Bayerische Staatsoper, ab 18. November 2019
It was all a dream: an absorbing production of Korngold's Die tote Stadt in Munich
The tenor role of Paul is one of the most punishing in the repertoire, particularly high-lying, often histrionic in its force and as demanding as Siegfried but squeezed into an opera half the length of Wagner's eponymous work. In Jonas Kaufmann it has met its match: his stamina never lets up, he throws his all into the character and rattles off reams of mellifluous tone without the crooning that can sometimes dog his singing. No less a contribution was made by Marlis Petersen. Her voice may be on a more refined scale, but my goodness she can launch herself into a role, channelling Salome and Lulu into the taunting, lascivious Marietta of Paul's imagination. Birgitta perhaps lies a little high for Jennifer Johnston, but her communicativeness and velvety tone were much in evidence; Andrzej Filonczyk's double act as Frank and Franz was neatly drawn, with a beguiling Pierrot's Lied at its heart: and Mirjam Mesak (Juliette), Corinna Scheurle (Lucienne), Manuel Günther (Gaston/Victorian) and Dean Power (Graf Albert) made up the rest of the dance troupe, singing and acting with panache.

To cap it all, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester's playing was incandescent. Kirill Petrenko, conducting his penultimate new production as the BSO's out-going general music director, was clearly loving every minute, coaxing sounds from Korngold's opulent, searing score that were both sumptuous and crystalline. True, his slow tempo for the return of “Glück, das mir verblieb” at the very end of the opera caught Kaufmann out briefly, but in general the pacing and the sheer generosity of the music-making were both impressive and emotionally satiating.

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