This work could be a bit difficult to an audience used to the power of the great symphonic works and operas by Strauss, specially when such a fascinating debate comes with a light, intimate music, which could result in a brainy comedy. However, Strauss' genius is present here: he had the merit to take this question into a marvellous score in an operatic stage, with a Finale placed among the most beautiful operatic moments of the 20th Century. In addition, La Roche's monologue about the metier of stage directing is intense and powerful, heir of Hans Sachs in Wagner's Meistersinger. The brief discussion of the servants about theatre is representing the opinion of the audience, in contrast with the main characters, whose thoughts on music, words and opera are done in the sphere behind the scene.
Note: this is a review of the dress rehearsal. The performance described below could improve as the performances go by. Indeed, the premiere was finally last night, and the Spanish press and some people from the audience qualified it as a big success.
Ten years later of his controversial production of Lulu in Madrid (co-produced with London), Christof Loy returns to Teatro Real for this Capriccio, that is being premiered in its stage. And he remains faithful to his style: big spaces, little atrezzo and being extremely close to the concept of the opera: focusing his work into the debate, resulting sometimes in a bit reduced movement action more appropriate for spoken theatre than musical theatre. The curtain opens to show a big aristocratical salon, now decadent, with few furniture and a big mirror dominating the scene. There, the characters will start their interesting discussion. There are some glimpses of 18th Century, like some dances, a harpsichord and the Count's costumes, but most of the characters wore streetclothes, and added to the statism of the production, sometimes we could feel that we were attending to the scenification of a rehearsal. The finale was the most moving moment: the lighting diminished gradually, focusing on the Countess, who appears now with a beautiful classic-style gown and all the hall empty, in which the strenght of her dilemma reached and moved the audience. Her child and ancient personifications appear on stage and she ask them for any help to choose. At the end, she left the scene and her child avatar is playing with a puppet while the curtain falls. In the decadence of the salon, Loy's work convey the fact that such an interesting debate is taken place in a declining world, like the original story in the rise of French revolution and the Europe lead to its own destruction amidst the horrors of World War II, when this opera was premiered.
Malin Byström sang the Countess with her dramatic soprano tone, and she kept her energy for the finale, in which she gave a fantastic rendition, with the voice well projected and beautiful singing. As an actress she has the physique.-du-rôle, as she is an attractive woman and her accomplished acting.
Christof Fischesser was the another big name of the cast, with his deep, dark, and big-volumed bass voice, and the La Roche monologue was one of the highlights of the night.
The rest of the cast did their part, but in a different level from Byström and Fischesser. Norman Reinhardt has a nice tenor voice for Flamand, but high notes are a bit difficult. André Schuen sang decently and acted better the role of Olivier. Theresa Kronthaler was a great Clairon, as well as Josef Wagner as the count. The italian singers sung by Leonor Bonilla and Juan José de León did well their difficult roles. The rest of supporting roles were well served, but at the same level of the rest of the singers excepting the higher level reached by the bass and the soprano.
The work resulted difficult for some people in the audience, and in the upper zones, some people were seen leaving the hall even shortly before the end, what was surprising for Strauss. However, the premiere was well received and the audience enjoyed it , since it was an opportunity to enjoy an Strauss opera rarely seen outside Germany and Austria.
Another reviews from the Spanish press:
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