Der Prinz von Homburg is a very interesting opera, it won't be everybody's cup of tea with having a complicated plot and that Henze's musical style for some will take a while to appreciate, but it is one of Henze's earliest operas and one of his best too. This production is fabulous visually, dramatically and musically, Der Prinz von Homburg is a very challenging work in so many ways and the production rises to those challenges brilliantly. The costumes and sets are very simple but very luminously coloured and cleverly designed, the dream-like quality they exude is most striking and it fits perfectly within the opera's themes. The staging is some of the best Nikolaus Lehnhoff's ever done, he not only makes the action intense and poignant but also does not forget about making the characters engaging. Particularly well done is what is done with Friederich, a character who grows in strength throughout the opera until he is a completely different person than how we perceive Friderich to be at the start, from absent-minded and bored to much more clearly motivated. The lighting is brilliant, adding to that dream-like feel seen in the rest of the production values and the filming is telling and sensitive with no superfluous shots of random objects, just one person instead of being expansive or the conductor. Though maybe it could have been a little more acknowledging of the orchestra, though they are far from neglected. The sound is as clear as crystal, and musically the production is superb. The orchestra bring out the lyricism as gently as possible and effectively contrast that with thunderous harsh dissonant-like parts that will make the hair raise. Wolfgang Sawallisch's conducting is authoritative and energetic yet dynamic and sensitive to the action. The singing is likewise great, all the roles are tremendously difficult but nobody shows signs of being taxed. Especially good is Francoise Le Roux who sings sonorously and shows Friederich's character journey harrowingly and emotionally. Claes-Hakon Ahnsjö is affecting too and sings his music- some of the best and most beautiful in the entire opera- with confidence. Marie Anne Häggander evokes sympathy and while not in her prime Helga Dernesch is still confident vocally and acts more than convincingly. William Cochran does not disappoint either. Overall, a fabulous production with striking production values, compelling stage direction, powerful orchestral playing and near-faultless performances and conducting. Even if the opera and Henze's style will take their time to get used to, there is no denying how exceptionally well done the production was and how I have no regrets watching or listening to. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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