Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wozzeck, Leaving Munich, and the Name of the Wind

Once again, I'm behind in my posting...a perpetual situation, sad to say...

I left Munich on the morning of Jan. 26, heading northward to Oldenburg (near Hamburg) for an agent audition, and then Avignon, for a house audition.

It's always hard leaving Munich, as I do so love the city. There was much to do that I didn't or couldn't get to--next time perhaps. Most importantly, I had hoped to see the Bavarian State Opera's production of Wozzeck (Berg) a second time (I saw it in November, shortly after it opened). But despite the recessioin--which doesn't seem to have hit Bavaria quite as hard as it has affected some parts of the world, and certainly not as hard as the U.S.--the performances were sold out, as were the Bavarian State Orch. concerts this weekend, which is a wonderful thing in these and any times.

Why see an opera a second time in only a few months? In this case, because it was a marvelous production of a well-played and well-conducted (Kent Nagano) 20th century masterwork. The staging concept was brilliant: the stage itself was covered with a layer of water, and the action alternated between there, with the singers slogging along the soggy stage, and a large, raised open box, i.e. a room with the fourth wall missing. All sorts of metaphors come to mind that fit both Wozzeck and the staging as a commentary on society, its cluelessness, and its complicity in Wozzeck's fate. As I said, it was brilliant and it worked. Yet, somehow, the personal pathos of the opera's ending was missing for me. I find that so often when a stage director chooses to go for social commentary in a sort of large-scale, abstract way, the immediacy of the intimate, personal drama can drop out for me. But again, this is me; I'm not sure everyone reacts this way. In any case, the piece was very well played and conducted, and dramatically sung. Afterwards, Nagano gamely waded out in galoshes for his curtain call, which made most of the audience smile and applaud even more loudly.

My morning before the 10:30 train was a whirlwind of winding-up activity of the mundane kind.

The train ride to Oldenburg was pleasant. Everything you've heard about German trains is accurate: it's a punctual pleasure to ride the Deutschebahn system!

Oldenburg has a beautiful, compact old-town center, with Rathaus, church, etc. Boy, was it cold, too: I gratefully went into a tea shop for a hot cup of chamomile tea to warm myself up after spending an hour or so wandering around the city center. No subway, but an efficient bus system makes getting around the town quite reasonable.

Audition was fine; I sang well and then zoomed out to the train station.

What I'm listening to: beyond my memories of Wozzeck, the role of Micaela from Carmen, as I've been re-working her for performances in CA in March.

What I'm reading: The Name of the Wind. This is an excellent--and long--fantasy debut by Patrick Rothfuss. Perfect for lots of traveling. It has entertained me on the train ride to and from Oldenburg, and I'm eagerly awaiting the sequel.