Intermezzo is an interesting opera, but it is never going to be one of my favourites from Strauss. The story is based on the composer's life and marriage and it isn't the easiest or flattering of stories to get into. The music has Strauss written all over it, all sounding beautiful and lush with soaring and controlled long melodies. This said, apart from one of Strauss' finest final duets, there is not much that fits into the memorable tunes category in the way Zerbinetta's colouratura aria from Ariadne Auf Naxos, Dance of the Seven Veils from Salome and especially the final trio from Der Rosenkavalier do. Certainly not a bad opera, just not one of my favourites.
This Glyndebourne production is extremely good. The picture quality may be somewhat grainy and the sound a little boxed, but the rest is pure magic. While I am more familiar with Strauss in German, I did think it was a good idea to have the production in English to make an unfamiliar work to many more accessible, understandable and easier to identify with. The 20s setting of this performance is just impeccable, very authentic and opulent-looking. The orchestra are outstanding, the long soaring lines typical of Strauss are very controlled and performed with great sensitivity, and they do bring out the charming quirks, like Strauss' own quotations and action commentary(these are things though that you are more likely to notice on repeat viewings), in the score wonderfully. The conducting shows authority and a great deal of intelligence, the interludes to scenes are beautifully shaped.
Felicty Lott is magnificent. She always did have a beautiful voice, and here is no exception. But she also characterises the voice very well, when the love melodies call for her to be amorous and with elegant legato Lott gives that, and when it calls for her to be bad-tempered and somewhat shrill she also does that effectively without sounding unpleasant. Christine is a role of a life-time for her, and she plays the role like one, especially with her hilarious comic timing in Act 1 Scene 6. Her diction is clear and well-enunciated. So is John Pringle's, who matches her in every way in his performance. His voice rings beautifully and is appropriately virile and exciting. As for his acting, that is splendid as well especially in the final scene.
As Baron Lummer, Ian Caley gives a performance that is very well-rounded. His tenor voice is rather light which is ideal for the more romantic side of his, but exciting in its vocal expression. He is suitably boorish and irritating as Intermezzo progresses, though it was a surprise hearing a tenor singing a boorish role when Mandryka(Arabella) and Baron Ochs(Der Rosenkavalier) were baritone and bass respectively. Elisabeth Gale's Anna is very humorous and musical. The supporting roles are well taken generally, though the accents for some reasons didn't always convince me. Then again, that may just be me.
On the whole, this is a fine production and Lott is magnificent. The opera itself is not going to be for everybody's tastes but that shouldn't deter you from having 155 minutes of great work across the board. 9/10 Bethany Cox
0 of 0 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?