Die tote Stadt at the Staatstheater Kassel, April 2016:
What makes Korngold’s music so fascinating is the interaction between a deliberately effective music that overpowers you and the most subtle detailed drawing, and it is congenially transferred onto the stage by Markus Dietz: Striking images gain a suggestive force through a subtle direction of even the smallest character.
This asks for superb singers-actors, and here in Kassel there is total bliss: American tenor Charles Workman gives Paul’s character a sensational fortitude. He overcomes the dreaded part with impressive clarity and power. Paul’s psychological conflicts thus seem less of a deficit and more proof of inner greatness.
Celine Byrne as Marietta is his coequal partner, balancing lightness, frivolity and Leichtigkeit, Frivolität und vulnerability wonderfully. Her fabulous voice has a rich timbre even in the highest register. The casting of other parts is also first-class, Hansung Yoo being a highlight as Pierrot singing the song "Mein Sehnen, mein Wähnen“. Dramatically as well as musically impressive are the opera chorus and the children’s choir Cantamus.
On the conductor’s podium Patrik Ringborg yet again manifests himself as a magician of colours, such as in the psychedelic sounds, shaped by the Kassel State Orchestra to Marie’s apparition. They get under your skin and no less so does the sound from the pit when the orchestra depicts solely instrumentally Paul’s and Marietta’s night of love.
Deafening applause and choruses of cheers award an operatic evening that should not be missed.
Maestro Patrik Ringborg and the Kassel State Orchestra never remained short on the late romantic bombast of the ecstatic score (and this is by no means pejoratively spoken). Delightful, how the carpet of sound from the pit never came across as too thick or too heavy, but throughout kept an exquisite transparency, thus at no time seducing the singers into pushing their voices!
Die sumptuous music, which is anchored in the later Romantic, but clearly reveals Korngold's own style and reminds of his career as a flim composer in occasional elements, blooms passionately under Patrik Ringborg's baton in many colours. It revels and rages, it seethes and shines and draws you into a spell that you can not escape (and don't want to). Unusually, but convincingly, the first act seamlessly merges into the second, which only adds to the power of the music. The orchestra follows its music director willingly and committedly, almost flawless, except for the tattered final tone, which brought the listener back into the reality of life with its weaknesses in addition to the beautiful. ... Conductor and orchestra are really enthralling.
Will follow shortly.

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