Les Huguenots in Nice
Les Huguenots in Nice
Review by Torkil Baden, foto: Staatstheater Nürnberg
Religion and violence five hundred years ago is chocking relevant
Les Huguenots, opera by Giacomo Meyerbeer (1836), Text: Eugène Scribe
Opéra Nice Côte d’Azur 23rd-29th of March 2016
Coproduction with Staatstheater Nürnberg
NICE/FRANCE: Religion and violence in Paris in 1572 is the theme of of Meyerbeer, the superstar of 1800-opera, in «Les Huguenots». The revival of the opera with an excellent cast hits the audience with chocking political actuality.
The «grand opera» of Meyerbeer in Paris with historical theme, five acts, ballet and virtuoso singers was in focus all over Europe. But Meyerbeer went into oblivion when Verdi, Wagner and Puccini caught the attention. His music does not have the melodic qualities of the succcessors, but he truly is a master of dramatic music. His score has a wide scope, also down to many original intimate parts, and with the Nice Philharmonique musical director Yannis Pouspourikas brought it forth with great passion and beautiful nuances.
In recent years some of the 15 Meyerbeer operas have been rewived like «L’Africain», «Le prophète», «Robert le diable» and above all «Les Huguenots».
The present production in Nice was premiered in Nürnberg in 2014. Tobias Kratzer, like many contemporary directors, justifies the old plot by telling the story about «Les Huguenots». It opens like «La Boheme» with a Paris painter in his attic. He wishes to produce a painting of peace as an alternative to the chocking news on television of IS-terrorists destroying cultural monuments in the Middle East. The historical figures of his painting come to life, and his historical dream becomes a nightmare when the conflict between followers of the pope and Luther escalates.
It would be irrelevant to tell the story of the Bartolomeus massacre in 1572 without looking outside the opera house to the Middle East. In fact the showings in Nice coincide with the news of Syrian government troops taking back the historical treasures of Palmyra, the ones destroyed in the very opening of the opera!
Even the devils of Notre Dame come to life.
Kratzer goes all the way in his daring production where even the gothic roof devils of Notre Dame come to life. And naked nuns enter the stage with machine guns approaching horny cardinals. But this is a logic portraying of how religion can be perverted and «The will of God» or «Allah akbar» misused. As expected you heard some audience boo-ing to the controversial «mise en scene» of Kratzer.
Uwe Stickert has great qualities in the leading role.
The musical side of the production deserves unanimous praise, especially to German Uwe Stickert, who also had the leading part of Raoul in Nürnberg. His both soft and strong tenor was a highlight of the evening. Also the beautiful sopranos of Cristina Pasaroiu and Silvia Dalla Benetta were a delight with great dramatic values, including the latter entering as a queen on stage on a horse.
Chœur de l’Opéra de Nice filled the stage and even standing in the auditorium with mighty choral qualities.
QueenMarguerite de Valois : Silvia Dalla Benetta
Valentine: Cristina Pasaroiu
Urbain: Hélène Le Corre
Raoul de Nangis: Uwe Stickert
Le comte de Nevers: Marc Barrard
Le comte de Saint-Bris: Francis Dudziak
Marcel: Jérôme Varnier
Musical director: Yannis Pouspourikas
Director: Tobias Kratzer
Design and costumes: Rainer Sellmaier
Orchestre Philharmonique de Nice
Chœur de l’Opéra de Nice