Sunday, 22 May 2011

Lost and found in Berlin's Samson et Dalila

Berlin is changing yet another time so I took the wrong train and ended in Pankow. I think I took S8 instead of S9. So at Pankow I took U2 Ruhleben except that the train ended on Potsdam Platz. Then I gave up and took taxi to Kanthotel so that I would finally rest. It could have taken me 38 minutes from Schoenefeld Flughafen but took 2 hrs all because of wrong digit and that Berlin is working on its transportation. The food and drink of this day, May 21, became Brezel and pizza with Cola Light.

I love Saint-Saens' Samson et Dalila and act 2 is the best act. But today in Deutsche Oper Berlin I was bored and I was pained by listening to the mezzo Vesselina Kasarova. It was not helped by the feeling of lacking fresh air in the audience room. But, any way, I am pleased to say that both Jose Cura and Vesselina Kasarova was excellent in the big duet of act 2 beginning with En ces lieux and continued with Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix.

Kasarova's voice is deeper now and sound almost like an alto. Her voice lacks some agility and she was not helped by the young maestro's slowing the music. Jose Cura's voice seemed to have opened of by act 2 and continued its triumph in act 3. In act 1 his voice sounded muffled. Laurent Nouri was an excellent High Priest of Dagon.

This Samson et Dalila was not shocking, or edgy. It was not even interesting. Even having Jose Cura singing his heart out in Vois ma misere did not change the fact that this production failed to make us care. It was the best singing of this aria so this says the production failed. It did not fail because director chose to put the action to another time place, Paris at the time the opera was composed. It fail by having half-cooked ideas, by defying logic, by putting distractions up instead of making the audience think and feel. The young boy and young woman (his mother? and servant to Dalila), the boy was supposed to be the alter-ego of Samson, but what interpretive value did it give the opera? Little value but plenty of distractions to the real story. The offensive part was the end of the opera with cattle wagons and Philistine dressing down as if they were Jews off to Auschwitz. But the real offensive part of this offensiveness was to make Holocaust into kitsch and it did not even make sense.... BAD

Yes it was bad, really bad, I have never applauded so little in my life, except that time when I had almost broken my wrist.

UPDATE: All the reviews I have read about this production gives the highest praise to Vesselina Kasarova.

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