Wozzeck is more an opera I appreciate rather than love, more to do with never entirely warming to the expressionistic music style but recognising its importance to music. The story and characters are compelling, and the music in terms of emotional impact is haunting. I had seen the Met production(as part of the Metropolitan Opera Presents series) and the 1987 production, but this production is my personal favourite of the three. The staging is sparse and all the better for it, but what made it interesting were the geometrical shapes imitating houses and imaginary places and the wonderful lighting effects which consisted of contrasting colours and spotlights. The costumes are very good, while the sound, picture and video directing are excellent.
Musically it is superb, with the orchestral playing bringing out the score's complexity and Daniel Barenboim's conducting enigmatic. Patrice Chereau's stage direction is also worthy of note, emphasising, like with his 1980s Ring but even more effectively, the opera's humanity as well as the historical and political elements of Wozzeck. His other selling points are how he interprets the text and how he directs the singers. Both of these are evident, especially in regard to the latter. And what great performances there are. Franz Grundheber's Wozzeck is very moving and intense, a softer and more subtle interpretation than under Abbado(even then he was still impressive)
Waltraud Meier is one of the finest singing actresses of the past 30 or so years, responsible for the finest Isolde and Kundry on DVD and an equally fine Santuzza, Venus and Eboli. Her Marie here is no exception, the voice is powerful and like with all her interpretations Meier succeeds in making Marie a human character. Graham Clark is scarily insane in his role as the Captain, while as the Doctor Gunter Von Kannen is in booming form. I was reminded of their performances of Mime and Alberich here(both singers sang the roles with Harry Kupfer directing for the 1992-3 Ring Cycle productions), I wonder if this was intended, because if so that was highly effective I thought.
Overall, stunning performance. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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