Theater an der Wien – Andrea Breth stages Prokofiev or gray glowing horror

They are haunting sound structures in which the dense themes peel apart like blocks, pile up on top of each other. Despite their monumentality, they never become monotonous, they are kept alive by a fine dynamic that pervades them and revives them again and again. These sounding spaces are pervaded by an enigmatic urgency, forming a dark maelstrom of the emotional essence of human abysses. The singing voices are interwoven in it, like the sound of the nameless drama, the painful border crossing of what the human spirit is able to endure.

It was Sergei Prokofiev’s rousing, sonorous creations that took center stage in the Theater an der Wien on Monday evening when the house opened a recording date for “The Fiery Angel” for journalists. The fact that the musical side of the production reached this intensity was also due to Constantin Trinks at the podium of the compact, precise Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, which made all the blazing depths of the score glow without losing balance or in the masses of sound. The singers also cleverly integrated drinks into this expressive flow: Above all, Ausrine Stundyte as Renata, who surrendered to the role with unbelievable physical effort, and Bo Skovhus as Ruprecht, who is always intense, vocal and scenic.

More creatures than people: Nikolai Schukoff (Mephistopheles, front), Ausrine Stundyte (Renata, right) and the ladies of the precise Arnold Schoenberg Choir.  - © Bernd Uhlig
More creatures than people: Nikolai Schukoff (Mephistopheles, front), Ausrine Stundyte (Renata, right) and the ladies of the precise Arnold Schoenberg Choir. – © Bernd Uhlig

Dark demons

The will-o’-the-wisps on the border between reality and magic, reason and delusion, desire and chastity permeates Prokofiev’s rarely played opera. Director Andrea Breth is also impressed by his gloomy, blazing soundscapes – significantly more than the plot, which also remains mysterious. Breth brought the story from the 16th century into a loose present. She put the visions of the main character Renata and her relationship with an angel appearing to her over the entire opera and settled them in a kind of prison psychiatry. For the piece of profit and loss.

Macabre experiments in the madhouse: Agrippa (Nikolai Schukoff, left) and one of his victims Ruprecht (Bo Skovhus, right) - © Bernd Uhlig
Macabre experiments in the madhouse: Agrippa (Nikolai Schukoff, left) and one of his victims Ruprecht (Bo Skovhus, right) – © Bernd Uhlig

By reversing the signs, Renata appears almost normal, surrounded by sad, darkened figures. Normality is relative, Breth shows us here, it is madness too. With this approach, the director has less staged Renata’s relationship with the knight Ruprecht who loved her and wanted to save her; on the contrary, it created Prokofiev’s dark worlds of sound, equally impressive stage spaces. Andrea Breth banned everything that was fairy tale, everything Catholic and moral, including the inquisition and pyre. Breth thus robs the material of its complexity, reducing the play with several levels of meaning. The question of whether it is psychotic delusion or religious enlightenment does not even arise.

Wispy intensity: Natascha Petrinsky (The Landlady), Kristján Jóhannesson (The Landlord), Elena Zaremba (The Fortune Teller), Bo Skovhus (Ruprecht) and lying Ausrine Stundyte (Renata).  - © Bernd Uhlig
Wispy intensity: Natascha Petrinsky (The Landlady), Kristján Jóhannesson (The Landlord), Elena Zaremba (The Fortune Teller), Bo Skovhus (Ruprecht) and lying Ausrine Stundyte (Renata). – © Bernd Uhlig

For two hours, Breth shows the pale face of human horror in the gray, bare asylum of the set designer Martin Zehetgruber. Individual figures and motifs are reminiscent of the original story. However, Breth was not interested in telling this stringently – a rather hopeless undertaking anyway.

An intense, sometimes oppressive evening at the opera, in which the emotional rather than the rational understanding of dark, shimmering landscapes of the soul is in the foreground.

Website design By BotEap.com

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published.