Jul 12

Fierrabras, an opera by Franz Schubert, and performed at the Zürich Opera House, conducted by Franz Welser-Möst. ??

Schubert wrote 10 operas, yet they are all rarely if ever performed. This is the only opera of his that has been actually filmed. The music itself gets 5-stars, as Schubert remains the greatest song writer ever. The story and plot line gets a 3 star rating, mostly because Schubert did not excel in finding good script writers. The music performance gets a 4, and the staging gets a bare 1-star. The staging is an odd 20th century, historical, minimalist mix. The worst part was the constant distraction of “Schubert”, somebody dressed up like Schubert, who had a rare speaking role, but otherwise mostly interacted constantly with the singers. Fortunately, there were no suitcases or trench coats. There was an oversized piano and chair, that seemed to fit into every scene, and multiple doors that the stage people and singers would come and go through. All in all, it was too bizarre, and did not contribute to explaining the opera. Opera, by its nature, is both auditory and visual. It is hard to omit the visual in an opera, without destroying the intent of the composer. Liberties with staging are as much a crime to the music, as attacking the script itself. When the visual elements distract or attempt a completely different re-interpretation of the composer’s intention of the opera, then I consider the performance to have failed. And that is where this performance has failed. It would be better to get a recording of this opera, than to watch what has been presented in this performance.

 

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