Cologne Opera opens big with Troyens

Conductor François Xavier Roth made a strong impression when he led the season finale at the Dutch National Opera with the Royal Concert Gbo Orchestra last June with a performance These are the first people by Rudy Stefan. This was an emergency measure, because in fact it was to be performed on a large scale “La Damnation de Faust” by Hector Berlioz. So it was a special experience to meet him again last Saturday, this time with a work – even more gigantic – for Berlioz, why troinas a seasonal opening in its own home: Oper der Stadt Köln.

Gürzenich Köln Orchestra, Isabelle Druet as Cassandre, from behind center, conductor François Xavier Roth and to the right Trojan Horse, additional from Opera Köln Photo: © Matthias Jung

In “Die ersten Menschen,” Roth was visually at the center of the production because the orchestra played in a wide setting on stage, behind the stage due to the aura scales. In Cologne we saw Roth again in the middle because director Johannes Erath set the epic about Troy and Carthage in a gigantic circle on a plateau. In the center, Ruth’s cologne, the Jorzenich Orchestra, played.

spinning path

Around that orchestra stage, a rotating arcade is where the drama of the demise of Troy took place and where, after the intermission, the blessed stay of the Trojans at Carthage is depicted. Surrounded by an amphitheater of stairs and stages where many choral scenes created a great spatial effect in sound and image.

This theater refers to the circular shape of the ancient city of Troy, but it is also reminiscent of the circular shape of the ancient Greek open-air theaters. The idea of ​​outdoor seating is encouraged by the enormous space in which the theater and audience are located. Not a theater but part of a gallery building separated by a black cloth, the equivalent of the Utrecht Yahrbors. The podium takes place on the flat floor and the audience is in an amphitheater.

The Cologne Opera House was erected in this complex, called Staatenhaus seven years ago, because the actual opera house is undergoing an endless process of renovation. So the audience laughed when the Cologne Oberbürgermeisterin Theater welcomed its new observer, Dutchman Hein Mulders, before the performance and indicated that he would guarantee the opera company’s return home in 2024. Nobody believes it!

Entrance to the Staatenhaus in Cologne, temporary residence of the Cologne Opera. Photo: © Matthias Jung

It’s impressive how the conductor and orchestra have stuck to their floors in dry and bare acoustics. The orchestra has been accustomed to it for seven years. Musicians can hone their resounding form in the spacious concert hall of the Kölner Philharmonie, their headquarters.

sexy trombone

Not only was Roth, a connoisseur of French music, was able to display the colors in Berlioz’s instruments in all their splendor. His musicians also showed that they brought their vocals with them. Strings that play as powerfully as subtle, almost without vibration, such as woodwind and brass groups ( why troin Hamm trombone with exciting harmony), percussionists and six guitarists (on a separate balcony), led by Roth’s passionate management, provided a tight, enchanting sound picture.

Mirko Roschkowski (alternating Enée with Enea Scala) and the formidable female image in why am i troinn Cologne Photo: © Matthias Jung

Immediately behind the orchestra, a colossal statue forms a focal point for the viewer: the white woman’s face. Les Troins revolve around, in two versions even. The first in the two companies La prize de Troie Insight photography Cassander in the center.

The frail-looking soprano Isabelle Drutt expressed in a strong tone the tragedy that she does not believe in her prediction of death, as did her rejection of Choribi’s love for her. She seemed to be bothering herself a lot with outdoor acoustics. Druitt looked tense and somewhat sharp. I found her appearance very strange. Dressed in black, she sat in a glossy white tub that slowly slid onto the treadmill.

Opera choir members Colin and Isabelle Drut, who, like Cassander, lead the women after the city was besieged by the Trojans Photo: Matthias Jung ©

Strong crepe

Her counterpart Choribi took on a complete and captivating expression in the person and voice of the baritone Ensek Choi. The extended duo became an expressive battle of love (Chorèbe) versus steadfastness (Cassanre), bolstered by a fierce whipping in the orchestra. François-Xavier Roth left every inch of the score unused. Even a small scene like a pantomime with Andromaque was meticulously colored by an excellent first clarinetist.

Isabelle Drut as Cassander and Ensec Choi as Churib Photo: © Matthias Jung

Sometimes he would push the narrow track around the orchestra. A whole procession of Trojans led by King Priam, who brought the humble horse (a dancer with a shiny black horse’s head), was not a highlight of the output.

Following in the footsteps of Greek drama, Berlioz prepared a leading role for the chorus. The ceremonial song with which the work opens, sung in the forecourt, was just the beginning of the grandiose performances by the young-looking opera choir, which also sang perfectly together in ample arrangements behind the turntable. The audience experienced exciting moments when choral groups were created everywhere. In such cases, also with the separation of the copper groups, the site has proven to offer possibilities that the director has masterfully exploited.

Sunny Carthage

Also at the beginning of the trio “Les Troyens à Carthage”, the choir began to sing ceremonially, now they are not dressed in black costumes, but in summer dresses and trousers and jackets, because Carthage is a sunny and prosperous place, led by the second central woman in Berlioz’s epic: Queen Didon. As the musical atmosphere seemed heavy and dramatic in the first two works, so light and sensual Berlioz paints the good life. Band leader Ruth gave a rousing performance with small gestures.

Oper Choir, Köln, Jorzenich-Orchester Köln on the circular stage why troin in Cologne. Photo: © Matthias Jung

Unfortunately, not all is well, because Didon is threatened by a Nubian king who wants to force her to become his wife. Fortunately, a small Trojan army arrived, and it was washed up on the Carthaginian coast by a shipwreck. Leader Enée immediately renders his services and looks: Victory! Director Erath immediately took the love that Eni and Didon feel for each other firmly by directing them straight to the hug scene. Their love for each other is abundantly depicted in scenes on a chaise longue and in the white bathroom, accompanied by the wonderful sounds of the famous Royal chase, among other things.

Enea sings Enee

Mezzo Veronica Simeoni revealed herself in voice and gesture as the fiery and somewhat fickle Didon. She, too, entered the white bath, half drunk at the folk festival, and was handcuffed by Sister Anna (Alto Bastidas-Gampoa). But because of Enée she came to rest. The role of the Prince of Troy found emotional coloration in the great and bright content of Inna Scala (in fact, with this first name he played himself). The duet with Didon in the night scene “Nuit d’ivresse et d’extase infinie” was touchingly beautiful, with superb accompaniment from the orchestra stage that also turned out to be possible.

Enea Scala as Enée and Veronica Simeoni as Didon in ‘Nuit d’ivresse’ in Why Troyen Carthage. Photo: © Matthias Jung

Here too a disaster. “Italy” call from relatives and friends who died in Trojan is disturbing. Enée must submit to the founding of a new Troy in Italy: Rome. This leads to the curse in which Didon chant: “Fa no, go! I curse you and your gods.” In the song “Adieu, fière cité” in which she says goodbye to life with an overdose of pills, sitting in that white bathroom, Veroney Simeone climaxes as the weary Didon.

severe anna

Berlioz portrays a beautiful role of Anna, Didon’s sister. She is in the output more than just a maid. She protects Didon, encourages her to confess a new love (Dedon’s widow) and helps her with the difficult truth left by Ini. With her beautiful and slender Mizuha, Adriana Bastidas-Gamboa gave off an intense Anna persona.

Members of Gürzenich-Orchestra Köln, Adriana Bastidas-Gamboa as Anna and Nicholas Cavalier as Narbal in Why Troyen Carthage Photo: © Matthias Jung

In the elaborate vocal array of gods, ghosts, and soldiers demanded by a two-in-one opera, the bass fell into the hands of Nicholas Cavalier as Anna’s beloved Narbal, Dimitri Ivanci as Eubas, in his ukulele-accompanied song “O blond Cérès”, and tenor SeungJick Kim in Hylas’ song “Vallon sonore”. “. The entire band made an overwhelming impression, particularly through the wonderful musical direction of François-Xavier Roth. We hope with “La Damnation de Faust” that he will remain in Amsterdam with the Dutch National Opera.

The five-hour performance, including two breaks, can be auditioned for seven more times until October 15.

Keep reading, listening and watching

Franz Stratmann spoke with Hein Mulders earlier this year about his new appointment as an inspector in Cologne and around Les Troyens.

Enea Scala sang with ‘glowing passion’ in 2019 at La Juive

And after a rather difficult start to “Paradise Stars” at Les Hugenots earlier this year in Brussels.

In 2016, Veronica Simeone sang a concert for Berlioz with the songs of Cassandri and Didon.

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