Kulturkompasset | critics of culture events

Stefan Herheim´s Sicilian Vepres at Covent Garden, with Pappano conducting!

Lianna Haroutounian and Erwin Schrott in Les Vêpres Siciliennes, conducted by Antonio Pappano. foto Bill Cooper.

LONDON: Les Vêpres Siciliennes Giuseppe Verdi’s opera, directed by Stefan Herheim at the Royal Opera House in London, stars Bryan Hymel and Lianna Haroutounian, conducted by Antonio Pappano.

With refrence to ZACHARY WOOLFE, who published, October 18th 2013 in The New York Times a review about “our Norwegian star director” Stefan Herheim. and his new production of Les Vêpres Siciliennes at the Covent Garden Opera in London.

In this Mr. Woolfe describes:

“It speaks to the talent and ambition of Stefan Herheim, one of opera’s most searching, inventive directors, that even given the stiff anniversary competition, two of the year’s hottest new productions have been his: one Wagner and one Verdi.” It was his Die Meistersinger in Nürnberg during the Salzburg Festival, and now  Les Vêpres Siciliennes which Giuseppe Verdi wrote for the Paris Opera in 1855.

Stefan Herheim is known for his deep, nearly archaeological layerings of narratives in any opera he is directing. However this new production explores preoccupations he memorably has examined elsewhere — from the blurriness of the line between illusion and reality to the coexistence of past and present to. According to Zachary Woolfe mr. Herheim has turned to the oldest trick in the book: the theater within the theater. The result is that we get the point — that a theater, like this opera’s plot, is a place where the public and the private, the political and the personal, collide — and we get it again and again. 

Herheim  always works with a team. In The Vêpres, La Boheme in Oslo, where the scenography was based on the very old La Boheme that the audience loved, and where “all” the house´ big sopranos has made the ir debut. His wonderful Julius Cæsar, where he used a model of the entrance part of the old operahouse in Oslo, like the Bayreuth Parsifal and other Herheim productions, is a collaboration with his dramaturg Alexander Meier-Dörzenbach and costume designer Gesine Völlm.  He express.”I am the captain of the team, definitely, But I’m a very communicative captain and I need the teamwork on the level where we can discuss everything. But I am very perfectionist. This can be a blessing and a curse.”

Les Vêpres Siciliennes Verdi’s opera, directed by Stefan Herheim at the Royal Opera House in London, stars Bryan Hymel and Lianna Haroutounian, center. Photo: Bill Cooper.

It seems like there is a trademark of Herheim´s way of doing an opera? “It’s not about talking about the piece,It’s about feeling it and trying to make the instrument in my hands – the operatic machinery – express it. My approach starts with the music, much more than with the text. The text is absolutely secondary in my work. For me the score is the text and when the music says something different from the text, I follow the score. Music speaks a language beyond words, beyond anything speakable, and this is what fascinates me.”  he says.

At the National Opera in Oslo we had a good production of Vêpres Siciliennes in the 1980´ (?), with Toril Carlsen brilliant as Helena. That our chief editor in Oslo still remember. It is with pleasure that this, one of Verdi’s most neglected late works. is getting a revival on stage, and for the first time at Covent Garden. A clear marking of that it is Verdi 200 years celebration this year. Which for the audience is importent.

Vêpres Siciliennes carried the promise that it would boost Mr. Herheim’s career beyond the Continental companies where he has made his good reputation. The Norwegian operafans is proud of Stefan Herheim.

 “Les Vêpres Siciliennes” will be performed through Nov. 11 at the Royal Opera House in London; roh.org.uk.

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