ARTS&ENTERTAINMENT T H U R S D A Y, S E P T E M B E R 2 2 , 2 0 1 1 T H E J E R U S A L E M P O S T Opera at the Salzburg Summer Festival Of the three new productions, one was outstanding, one academic and the third traditional • By IRVING SPITZ T he 2011 Salzburg Festival featured six full operatic productions. Almost without exception, singers were of the highest standard, which is in keeping with this elitist musical extravaganza. The most satisfying of the new productions was Leos Janácek’s Makropulos Case. The young Emilia Marty had been given an elixir to prolong life by her father and was 337 years old. Now a renowned opera singer, she appears during the conclusion of a century-long inheritance lawsuit. To Emilia, the fate of the inheritance is not important. She only wants the written formula to maintain youth. The production was directed by Christoph Marthaler with sets and costumes by Anna Viebrock. The center stage functioned as a SOPRANO ANGELA DENOKE (Emilia Marty) in Janácek’s ‘Vec Makropulos.’ (Walter Mair) lawyer’s office, dressing room and finally a courtroom. The arduous role of Emilia Marty was taken by soprano Angela Denoke who recordings. This concept was novel but also con- way between the orchestra pit and front row seats gave a stunning, impassioned portrayal of the troversial. Loy himself pointed out in a program in the Felsenreitschule (Riding School) for King protagonist’s narcissistic character. Only at the interview, that the Sofiensäle was the site where the Duncan’s entourage and later for the flight of end, in her searing monologue, did she come Austrian Nazi party met and subsequently “a center refugees. Another ingenious effect was to project to terms with her age and let an element of for rounding up Jews marked for deportation.” Banquo’s future descendents, in line with the humanism crept in. She decides she has lived prophesy, to include images of British royalty enough and offers the elixir formula to an THERE WAS no question about the brilliant (Charles I, Victoria and the current Queen Eliza- aspiring singer, who nonchalantly burns the performance of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra beth). The three tiers of stone arches were effec- document. Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen under Christian Thielemann. He really came to tively utilized when rebel soldiers covered with achieved sumptuous, nuanced playing from terms with the dramatic score and kept the giant branches from Birnam Woods emerged from them, the Vienna Philharmonic. This was the unques- orchestral forces under tight control, resulting in fulfilling the witches’ prophesy. tioned operatic highlight. glorious sound. Soprano Evelyn Herlitzius portrayed Baritone Zeljko Lucic was an impressive Mac- Richard Strauss’s The Woman without a Shadow, a the complex wife most effectively. Anne beth, especially in the banquet scene when fairy tale, involves two couples, one celestial Schwanewilms was outstanding as the Empress and accosted by the ghosts of Banquo. Macduff, (Emperor and Empress) and the other earthly (the Michaela Schuster took the role of the sly nurse. tenor Giuseppe Filianoti, rose to the occasion dyer Barak and his wife). The Empress casts no Wolfgang Koch, the sonorous baritone, sang the when mourning his family (their bloody corpses shadow (a metaphor for infertility) and to save her role of the Dyer. Stephen Gould as the Emperor were displayed on stage). Pride of place, howev- husband she must acquire one. The nurse takes the had an imposing ringing tenor. er, went to Russian soprano Tatiana Serjan as Empress to the earthly abode of Barak where she The hottest ticket in the current festival was Lady Macbeth. At no time did she have to force engineers a plot with Barak’s wife, promising the Verdi’s early opera, Macbeth, conducted by Riccar- her voice. Her early letter aria was a real tour de latter riches if she will relinquish her shadow. Initial- do Muti. With Muti at the helm of the Vienna force and equally inspiring was her sleepwalking ly she agrees, but subsequently reneges, and even Philharmonic, the performance was impeccable. scene. Serjan’s passage across the upper tier of the Empress refuses to accept it. His interpretation was paced slower than his pre- the Riding School attired in a white night gown Christof Loy presented an academic production. vious forays into the opera. in the prelude to her final aria was my most Designer Johannes Leiacker staged this opera in Peter Stein’s production was classical. Designer cherished memory of this opera and the festival Vienna’s Sofiensäle, the location of many famous Ferdinand Wögerbauer utilized the large passage in general.