Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rigoletto at the Komische Oper Berlin

Through good luck and good timing, I was able to snag an excellent seat for the Comic Opera's Rigoletto in Berlin on Wednesday night. My first time in that opera house and, of course, I felt thrilled and privileged. And, at 42 Euro per ticket, it was a bargain. (The Met typically costs the equivalent of 150 Euro for a comparable seat.)

Though lacking the grand voices and grand production spending at the Met, it's not condescending, I hope, to remark that the Comic Opera is what the NY City Opera could be--and should be. The costuming in Berlin was fresh, exciting, innovative, memorable. And perfectly evocative of the diabolical, tragic theme of the story. Something about the clowns who appeared in various guises and large numbers throughout the evening felt eerie and menacing. Just perfect! I loved the singers who played Rigoletto and Gilda--Bruno Caproni and Brigitte Geller, both of near-Met quality. And they can act!!

The Less Is More scenic design impressed. Division of space accomplished cleanly and economically with four decorative rectangular boxes placed strategically on stage and opening/closing to admit characters on and offstage. That was it. The rest accomplished through costumes and stage business and of course Verdi's glorious music.

Two unusual program notes: one, all operas performed at this house are sung in German, regardless of the language in the original libretto. Verdi in German? Was skeptical at first, but it worked !

Second, the three act opera was performed without intermission. First time I experienced Rigoletto in that fashion, and it, too, was a surprsingly effective innovation that greatly improved dramatic impact. Glad I hadn't 'over-watered' myself in the afternoon before the performance.

Hope and expect to attend many more performances there in the years ahead. Go if you can !

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