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Two Operas by Richard Strauss at the Vienna State Opera

Monday, 19 December 2011 , ora 10.08

During the month of December, people could see at the Vienna State Opera two operas by Richard Strauss: Daphne, a late work sporadically played in the decades that followed the first audition in 1938 and the more famous opera Der Rosenkavalier (1911). Two Romanian names on the poster, in supporting roles: Valentina Naforniță is one of the housekeepers in Daphne, and Liviu Burz - a valet in Der Rosenkavalier.

Valentina Naforniță-Soprano...

... debuts at the Vienna State Opera in the 2011-2012 season with other roles such as Papagena in Mozart's Magic Flute, a sheperd in Tannhäuser, Gianetta in L'elisir d'Amore. Born in Moldova, Valentina studied at Chisinau and Bucharest, where the public knows her as a soloist at the National Opera and Philharmonic George Enescu. Winner of several international competitions, including the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World (2011), the young soprano is currently a member of the Vienna State Opera ensemble and has a Novomatic scolarship. In Daphne she appeared alongside the Russian Julia Novikova in a magical duet - and difficult to interpret like everything that Richard Strauss wrote in this opera. The singers blend not only vocally, but also optically (I noticed how beautifully harmonized are the two sopranos with luminous voices and slim figures).

Liviu Burz-Bass...

...- born in the Alba district and a graduate of the Academy of Music in Cluj Napoca - he is a member of the Vienna State Opera Choir, but also held solo roles in national and international productions. Der Rosenkavalier was staged by Otto Schenk, a venerable director and actor in "old guard" of the Viennese stage, rethought the show in December last year. In the new version from December 15th, we could follow Anja Harteros (Marshal), Michaela Selinger (Octavian) and Chen Reiss (Sophie). As in Daphne, in the starring male roles were distributed singers mainly experienced in the repertoire of German - Kurt Rydl was Baron Ochs, Michael Schade - Leukippos and Johan Botha - Apollo.

Frenchman Nicolas Joel...

...- now director of the Paris National Opera - he signed the stage direction of Daphne. He wanted to maintain the impression of an intimate chamber opera, working with the German scenic designer Peter Halmen. The mythological story of the sympathetic Daphne, loved by Apollo, the god of light, is translated into a fin de siècle decor, inspired by neoclassical architecture of the Villa Stuck in Munich, the city where Richard Strauss was born. But while in Der Rosenkavalier, the rococo style slides into the distorted reality, caricatured, in Daphne, the ancient Greek legend is identified with the fate of many women, contemporaries of Richard Strauss, who run from love, finding refuge in the worship of nature. With a clever stage direction and not only ingenious solutions, but also aesthetic ones, the show is fascinating, even though from a musical stand point, it seems to me, it is not the best opera of the composer. Waiting for the moment when Daphne is morphed, as legend says, in a laurel bush, Meagan Miller, convincing as the main female role nests in a golden tree trunk and ends in luminous tones a piece showing that the classical-modern dialogue does not cease to inspire new adventures and intellectual scenes around it.

Preda-Schimek Haiganuș
Translated by Vlad Bîrsan and Oana Marina Siliste
MTTLC, Bucharest University