The week in classical: Wozzeck; Don Giovanni – Christian Gerhaher and Anja Kampe thrill in five-star Berg | Classical music

Spinning in its personal orbit, because it appears on each contemporary encounter, Alban Berg’s Wozzeck (1925) resembles no different opera. Voices sing, converse, shout in myriad methods, exactingly specified by the composer. The rating glints by way of each model, a lurching waltz or honky-tonk piano parachuting in to save lots of you when Berg’s atonal harmonies have left you stranded. Primarily based on Georg Büchner’s play Woyzeck, the plot is blunt and brutal. A soldier murders the mom of his youngster, then drowns himself.

Unhealthy stagings of the opera are uncommon, however some attain completely different ranges of expression. The brand new manufacturing on the Royal Opera Home, performed by Antonio Pappano, directed by Deborah Warner, is in that class. On first night time solid, refrain, orchestra, sounded faultless. From onstage bands to part solos to the voluptuous interludes that form the work, each facet was compulsive, shadowy, glinting.

Within the title function, the German baritone Christian Gerhaher is formidable and affecting. Not probably the most pure of actors, this magnificent singer comes into his personal, transferring with a bewildering rigidity, painful to witness. At the beginning, as he mops the latrines, we perceive the extent of his degradation. (We all know what toilets are for, however right here, lest we had forgotten, the act of excretion, in all its selection, was spelled out.) Anja Kampe, an exciting and critical Marie, Peter Hoare and Brindley Sherratt in droll, icy partnership because the Captain and the Physician, led an knowledgeable ensemble solid and refrain, all pulling their weight.

Warner has constructed on her 2022 Royal Opera manufacturing of Peter Grimes – written 20 years later however influenced by Wozzeck – on this exploration of Berg’s outsider. Like Grimes, Wozzeck has the sensibility of a poet however not one of the language. Each are crushed by poverty. Each facet of the story is clearly instructed. The designs by Hyemi Shin (costumes by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting by Adam Silverman, choreography by Kim Brandstrup) shift between drab interiors and a sick-looking forest in opposition to a sulphur-orange sky. On the level of disaster, a crimson moon is eclipsed, to spectacular impact, because the orchestra sounds its roaring, unison be aware in a terrifying crescendo. Path and music are solid as one. You may’t ask extra of opera.

The 2023 Glyndebourne pageant opened with Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in a brand new staging by the French director Mariame Clément, performed by the American-German Evan Rogister in his home debut. On the proof of previous work there (Il turco in Italia and Don Pasquale), Clément ensures model and notion. Each have been in plentiful proof, however the staging, at occasions overbusy, has but to take root. Of larger concern was the coordination downside between singers and orchestra. (I used to be there on second night time.) Rogister’s speeds have been quick, however felt untethered. Mozart’s rating is second nature to the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. All of the notes have been in place, the element sharp, however on this event it was the imaginative continuo enjoying that gave the efficiency power and definition.

A earlier staging of Don Giovanni, directed by the ever radical Graham Vick, featured a horse’s severed head and a dung heap. Forward of its time in pointing up the Don’s odiousness, Clément’s strategy is sort of hygienic as compared. Set within the atrium of a wood-panelled lodge, the designs (by Julia Hansen) are trendy, with nods in the direction of the work’s 18th century origins: a cloak, a wig when disguise is required. In any other case the look is stag-night satin blazers or hen-weekend pink sparkle or, briefly, black balaclava masks to counsel that every one males are or might be rapists.

Mikhail Timoshenko, left, as Leporello and Andrey Zhilikhovsky in the title role of Don Giovanni.
‘A pure’: Andrey Zhilikhovsky, proper, as Don Giovanni, with Mikhail Timoshenko a lyrical Leporello. {Photograph}: Monika Rittershaus/© Glyndebourne Productions Ltd

Advantage, by way of the determine of Don Ottavio (Oleksiy Palchykov, ardent and pure-toned), will get an equal listening to. It’s all there in Lorenzo da Ponte’s textual content, however a latest directorial development has been to solid Ottavio because the wimp, and his betrothed, Donna Anna, as prone to the Don who rapes her. This isn’t a possible studying post-#MeToo. In contrast to Mozart’s viewers of 1787, we can’t snicker on the Don’s sexual deviancy and comeuppance. For some administrators, staging Don Giovanni in any respect is an issue. Clément unknots the challenges intelligently, however with the work’s flamboyant extremes reined in, it feels quick on mojo.

The excessive level, and actually value celebrating, is the solid: deftly chosen, youthful and predominantly east European. The Moldovan baritone Andrey Zhilikhovsky – shirt open to his chest, cuban heels, tight denims and a hip swagger – is a pure within the title function, musicality and restraint profitable out over caricature. Michael Mofidian and Victoria Randem delight as Masetto and Zerlina, raunchy and exuberant. The wronged ladies, Ruzan Mantashyan’s Donna Elvira and Venera Gimadieva’s Donna Anna, compensate for impartial characterisation with high-class singing. A brand new title to look at is the younger Russian bass-baritone Mikhail Timoshenko as Don Giovanni’s sidekick, Leporello, acquired up as a seedy, middle-aged Reginald Perrin. He may not steal the women along with his tweedy look, however with that voice – lyrical, wealthy, stuffed with magnificence – he may have anybody he fancies.

Star scores (out of 5)
Don Giovanni