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seit/since 1999

September 1999 - Vienna State Opera Page 1


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Vienna State Opera in September 1999

Premieren der Saison 1999/2000 - Ernani - Guillaume Tell - Fidelio - I vespri siciliani - Ariadne auf Naxos

Text: Birgit Popp, Photos: Axel Zeininger

The Vienna State Opera opened the season 1999/2000 with Verdi's Ernani at September 1, 1999, transmitting the performances also on the square in front of the capitol. In the season 1999/2000 56 operas and one operetta, 'The merry widow' will be staged, among them five premieres. The first premiere it will have with the first performance in Austria of Wilfried Hiller's children opera 'Das Traumfresserchen' ('The dream eater', text: Michael Ende) at September 29, 1999. Further performances will take place throughout October, held either at 11 a.m. or 3 p.m.. The second premiere will follow with Halévy's 'La Juive' on October 23, 1999, conducted by Simone Young in a production of Günter Krämer. The last opera premiere in the Vienna State Opera House of this millennium will take place with Richard Strauss' 'Die Frau ohne Schatten' at December 11, conducted by Giuseppe Sinopoli and directed by Robert Carsen. The year 2000 will see as first premiere Alban Berg's 'Lulu' on February 2. The musical direction will be in the hands of Michael Boder, the stage direction in the hands of Willy Decker. The last premiere of this season will be staged with Mozart's 'Die Zauberflöte' under the baton of Roger Norrington and the stage direction of Marco Arturo Marelli on June 1, 2000. The current season brings slightly raised entry fees and an increasing of the air-condition, which unfortunately supports colds. The first performances of the new season confirmed again, that it hardly have another opera house, which is able to bring as much vocal first class on the stage than the Vienna State Opera House.

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Carlos Alveraz as Don Carlos

From the male side of the casting the return of Ernani has brought back the premiere-cast of December 1999: Neil Shicoff sang the title role As his rivals could be heard again Carlos Alvarez in the role of Don Carlos (Charles V.) and Roberto Scandiuzzi as Silva. The female principle role of Elvira sang Maria Guleghina as in the second performance series in June. Unfortunately also this time it was true for the soprano that a bit less volume and more nuances in her voice would be a plus for enjoyment of the listeners. In the performances of September 5 and 9 Neil Shicoff, who will have sung this role for the last time of the season at Vienna, and Roberto Scandiuzzi were in best form. The American singer, who can be heard in 'Eugen Onegin' in the Vienna State Opera still this September and who is going to sing in the new production of 'La Juive' the part of Eléazar, moved his tenor with easiness through the score and showed it with carrying capacity and brightness also in the ensemble scenes. In Scandiuzzi's sonorous, with much feeling for rhythm equipped bass could be heard his delight in the musical creation. Carlos Alvarez, who had been occupied in June by the rehearsals for the Don Giovanni-premiere, returned with youthful power to the trio of protagonists fighting for the favor of Elvira. Flexible and well-tempered was his baritone, though he had sometimes to take it a bit back in consequence of a cold. His next appearances in the Vienna State Opera will be also in one of his most brilliant roles as Posa in Verdi's 'Don Carlos' end of September 1999. Different to the first two series the musical direction lied in the hands of Frédéric Cahslin, who succeeded in the performances of September 5 and 9 to go in depth of the score and to drag along the audience.

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Thomas Hampson in the title role of Guillaume Tell

Another production, which had had its premiere in the first half of the season 1998/99, was Rossini's Guillaume Tell As in the premiere of October '98 the title role was sung by the American baritone Thomas Hampson. Glorious and convincing he gave the Swiss national hero. In the performances of September 2 and 6, 1999, he dominated without difficulty the action by his appearance and voice. At his side stood in Rossini's 1829 at Paris first staged Grand Opéra, which was his last opera, again Nancy Gustafson as Mathilde and Egils Silins as his opponent Gesler. His role debut at Vienna as Arnold gave State Opera-ensemble member Keith Ikaia-Purdy, who maybe did not succeed completely in reaching the high notes as easily as the Arnold of the premiere Giuseppe Sabbatini, but who completed his part with braver. As Tell's son Jemmy gave Ileana Tonca her Vienna State Opera debut. From this season on the Rumanian soprano belongs to the ensemble of the Vienna State Opera. The finalist of the Plácido Domingo Competition 1998 and award winner of several international opera competitions has studied at Bucharest and sang at the opera house, there. Tours have led her to Austria, France, Germany and Italy. In the current season she is going to sing at the Vienna State Opera parts like the voice from heaven in 'Don Carlos' and the peace messenger in 'Rienzi'.

A great part in the success of the performance under the baton of Fabio Luisi had the State Opera Choir and the by Renato Zanella excellent rehearsed ballet. The latter was used sometimes as occasion for boos, but these boos will have more count for the production of David Pountney as for the performance of the ballet. The production of the British director and his as settings and costume designer acting fellow-countryman Richard Hudson, who had the same function for 'Ernani' - there in cooperation with Graham Vick -, does not make everybody enthusiastic, but can be called nevertheless interesting.

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