6th September 2019
Once again the strength lay in the deep and majestic baton of an emotionally inspired Semyon Bychkov. The Russian maestro has saved the day from what was to have been the summer of Russian artists. From the musical fiasco that was the debut of Valery Gergiev who conducted the new production of Tannhauser, to the fright that was Anna Netrebko making her debut on the green hill as Elsa, only Bychkov managed to live up to the quality expected from a maestro of his reputation.
The Russian understood how to conduct the long Wagnerian composition, from a first act that was more contemplative than revealing, to a second act where the colours of the flower girls’ voices and Kundry’s uncontrolled passion were more contained than sensual. But, it was in the memorable third act that he held the essence of the work, bringing to life the orchestral monument that is this complex and profound score. The strings sounded dense and vigorous, the brass played with the sensory capacity of a transcendental light with a synaesthesia that is only possible in this house, the winds and their delicate phrasing pointed to the framework of an opera that is a sound sculpture seeking musical transcendence. An unforgettable performance that gave full meaning to the so-called mystical pit with cathartic results.
The marvellous choir of the Festspielhaus matched the level of this reflexive and organic baton. Full of layers and colours within the sections, with a soft grained and well-rehearsed male choir and female voices of transitory, almost abstract sonorities. Director, Eberhad Friedrich’s work had once again done justice to what is considered one of the best opera choruses in the world