Fantastic Salzburg production, on par with the 1989 Stuttgart production
Both productions cannot be recommended highly enough, with me the 1989 production was an ideal introduction to Zimmermann's opera and this performance serves wonderfully as an alternative production. Die Soldaten as an opera itself is very interesting, the expressionistic/serialist style will not be for everybody but it has a very powerful story and the music is clever and hits an emotional chord too. Like the Stuttgart performance, this production does everything right. The production values, with 40 meter stage, side by side scenes and the glass wall- where there is more action, and with the likes of leering horses just as harrowing- to name a few, are atmospheric as well as striking, and the staging is the very definition of thrilling. It is very sensual, at times almost over-the-top, but it also has the grittiness and intensity that is emphasised so clearly in the music and story. The final scene is just heart-rending. The orchestral playing is excellent, the playing itself is of great-sounding quality(beautiful in context of the opera is probably not the right word) and while it is very difficult music it doesn't fall into the trap of being too careful. The conducting keeps things flowing nicely and lets the drama speak for itself. The three lead roles are performed superbly, especially the poignantly vulnerable Marie of Laura Aiken, who sings with a bright, dynamic and never too acidic tone. Tomacz Konieczny is ardent and just as sympathetic as Stolzius, by far the more likable of Marie's two suitors, his voice rings out and doesn't show signs of being taxed. You really grow to hate Desportes and with his booming baritone voice and authoritative yet conniving stage presence Daniel Brenna more than convincingly shows why that is so. Die Soldaten is an ensemble work essentially and everybody is very good, Alfred Muff is every bit the noble father figure, but the three leads are the ones that stand out. Overall, fantastic. 10/10 Bethany Cox
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