Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Premiere of OTELLO in Berlin May 30, 2010
It is all happening in a refugee camp. For those who loved this Otello, this is genius. For other people it is just a big question mark, why? Because it doesn't make sense. It does not do anything for the story. The refugees are interned in a camp. There is little to do except to watch and hope for some money and something to eat. To care about the African refugees that are in those refugee camps in Europe is a worthy cause, to use them are a mere backdrop for an opera is not.
There are nothing here to give you empathy for the refugees. They are simply the chorus, a mass of people. A heavily pregnant woman, children who are starting drinking alcohol and with drugs. Children who see too much. The children have to eat from the garbage brought in from the outside. The children are there so that Jago has his audience for his Credo. These children are not scared of hell, they are there. They are not scared of emptiness because that is all they have. The children can be played to be hide Otello when needed. They only cost a few coins and then you are a wall to hide behind because in this refugee camp nobody notices the children unless they need them.
But why care? It even starts with de-sensitive us. Before the music starts, the curtain goes up and the chorus just stands there, and then some of them put on black masks on their faces. Oh yes, this means that we should understand, what really? That we are all Otello? Or should it mean that there are Africans in this refugee camp. Or is that when those who loved this Otello understood that it happens in a refugee camp. Because for me it just told me that it is all a fake. Especially the Regie. It does not think or feel but most importantly it does not make the audience feel. Intellectually understanding the idea behind the Regie is one thing (and I found that hard) but Opera is Feelings not an University Degree.
And the there was the dancing in the background. But Otello is an Opera not a Ballet. It was not the worst idea but it was more distracting than giving anything to the audience. The people behind this Otello did not trust the audience to feel the pain of Otello and Desdemona. They even thought we needed children surrounding Desdemona in the scene Nel livido fango to understand how innocent this Desdemona is. No, Verdi and Boito have already made us aware. We are not stupid.
In the end there was a lot of Buh's and some Bravo's for the people behind this production. For the singers it was BRAVO's all the time. So much so that those who wanted to Buh the production team all the time did not do so much when the singers was there.
Otello = José Cura
Desdemona = Anja Harteros
Jago = Zeljko Lucic
Emilia = Liane Keegan
Cassio = Yosep Kang
Rodrigo = Gregory Warren
Lodovico = Hyung-Wook Lee
Montano = Jörn Schümann
Ein Herald = Lucas Harbour
Patrick Summers, conductor
In the critic I have the read there seem to be a trend if they loved the Regie they did not like the conductor and vice versa. The singers were all wonderful, loved the sound of the chorus, and orchestra. I think Patrick Summers did well. The Children chorus was good.
Yosep Kang was wonderful as Cassio. Anja Harteros was the best Desdemona I have seen. José Cura was superb as Otello. Zeljko Lucic was Jago, good singer and actor. Liane Keegan has a great voice that soars. She not only has a big voice but a big body too but luckily here she was simply Emilia, Jago's wife and Desdemona's friend and not a caricature of a big woman.
BRAVA, Anja Harteros
BRAVA, Liane Keegan
BRAVO, José Cura
For more reviews from my travels, see www.operaduetstravel.com