Saturday, 16 August 2014

Performances of Marc-André Dalbavie's opera 'Charlotte Salomon' in Salzburg

This August, I have attended two performances of Marc-André Dalbavie's new opera Charlotte Salomon in Salzburg : the third on August 7th and the fourth on August 10th.

The libretto by Barbara Honigmann, after Charlotte Salomon's own work Leben? oder Theater? mixes German, mainly used by the spoken character of Charlotte Salomon and French, used by the other singing characters. Charlotte Salomon and her singing double named Charlotte Kann, are dressed the same way, but the speaking character mainly remains seated on the left of the stage, narrating Charlotte's story. The singing characters move in a series of connecting rooms using only the first few meters in front of the very large stage of the Felsenreitschule. Several paintings of Charlotte Salomon are projected on the white set.

The music is rather inexpressive, continuously flowing gently towards an unexpected outburst that seems to have no connection with whatever is happening in the libretto. The simultaneous use of speaking and singing voice and of German and French language (with German and English subtitles) doesn't make the plot easier to understand. The vocal parts don't offer a great variety of styles and are rarely mixed together.

The performance lasts 2 hours and 20 minutes without a break, except a long pause before the epilogue, during which several members of the audience felt an urgent need to rush toward the exits. Most of the characters are always on stage, sometimes just getting busy in a dark part of the set.

All singers performed with dedication and commitment , but it wasn't enough to help the audience to feel concerned about the rather placid staging by Luc Bondy.

The cast was the following : Johanna Wokalek (Charlotte Salomon), Marianne Crebassa (Charlotte Kann), Jean-Sébastien Bou (Doktor Kann, ein Arzt), Géraldine Chauvet (Franziska Kann / Eine Frau), Anaïk Morel (Paulinka Bimbam), Frédéric Antoun (Amadeus Daberlohn, ein Gesangspädagoge), Vincent Le Texier (Herr Knarre / Lageroberst), Cornelia Kallisch (Frau Knarre), Michal Partyka (Professor Klingklang / Ein Kunststudent / Dritter Nazi / Ein Polizist), Eric Huchet (Der Papst / Der Propagandaminister / Der Kunstprofessor / Erster Nazi / Ein Mann / Zweiter Emigrant), Annika Schlicht (Eine Kunststudentin aus Tirol), Wolfgang Resch (Zweiter Nazi). The composer conducted the Mozarteumorchester Salzburg.

Next February in Gelsenkirchen, another stage work on the same subject will receive its world première performance : Michelle DiBucci's dance opera Charlotte Salomon - Der Tod und die Malerin.

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