Back to Bruges

Tonight to the last night of Die tote Stadt.

It was an afternoon impulse.

I sat considerably further back than I did last time – in row U. It turns out that the production does work better at a distance. Nestled under the balcony, it felt a bit like being in the mezzanine level of the State Theatre.

Stefan Vinke seemed better than on my previous hearing. It may just be that, further away, I did not need to be concerned with the finer details of vocal strain, which was still (though less so) evident.

On reflection, the parts of Paul and Marie/Mariette make pretty impossible demands in a combination of German and Italianate style, though the demands are more punishing for the tenor. As for Vinke’s acting, there was still a bit too much in the first act of pacing back and forth waving his arms about or grasping the furniture.

The orchestral sound still suffered from the boominess and boxiness, but at a distance this too was less troublesome and by the third act I was largely accustomed to it.

It’s not only distance but familiarity which can lend enchantment. On a second hearing/viewing I could identify more of the patterns and recurrences. And the ending really does work. I’m glad I went again. I still wouldn’t count it as a triumph but I would say it was an estimable achievement.

The house was noticeably fuller – probably because it was the last night of a rarety – though I think I detected signs of some (mild) papering. SSO MD Rory (Prefect) Jeffes was there in preference to his own orchestra’s slightly B-grade (in the strings at least) team fielded for the Sydney Piano Competition Mozart concerti next door. At the first interval in the Concert Hall foyer I caught an improbably fast final movement of K467 from Cherubino-at-the-keyboard Nikolay Khozyainov.

At the end of the opera, the orchestra emerges [/emerged] from the bowels of the Opera House (sans their instruments) for an on-stage curtain call. There was a special presentation (announced by surtitle flash) to Aubrey Murphy, who was taking his final bow after ten years as leader of the orchestra (in fact he had already left save for this production for which he returned specially). That’s more than the SSO was able to manage on the departure of Michael Dauth, and I wonder if Rory Jeffes paused to consider the comparison.

One Response to “Back to Bruges”

  1. SIPCA Final « Stumbling on melons Says:

    […] Stumbling on melons « Back to Bruges […]

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