And Wozzeck here is entirely passive and a bit slow, as usual; if the images of war are his own, which we're led to believe is the case, then he is suffering from PTSD, numb to almost everything. That description of the title character in Alban Berg’s Wozzeck is also a fair summation of the opera itself, ... OPERA REVIEW. Andrew Staples' well sung Andres occasionally got lost in the murkily lit, ugly set (by Sabine Theunissen) but Tamara Mumford made much of Margaret. Moving the action forward to near or during World War 1 was not a problem – Berg was serving in the army when he composed Wozzeck and wrote to his wife of the dehumanizing life he was leading – but the audience, from the first, is bombarded with images of blimps, marching cartoon soldiers, wounded children, explosions and people in gas masks. This revival, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Sequin and starring Peter Mattei, opened at The Metropolitan New York in January this year. Be prepared to be overwhelmed by the music and the singing and by the production, the set and the projections. OPERA REVIEW Berg’s ‘Wozzeck’ returns to the Met, refashioned for a time of war Director William Kentridge takes on the composer’s expressionist masterpiece in a … This world ambled, sprinted and careened in unpredictable directions, with the singers often navigating the stage on precarious duck boards (wooden planks used in trench warfare to keep from sinking into the mud). Robert T. Levine is a New York born-and-bred music writer with a particular interest in music for the voice. What we see on stage is the mental aberration of a nation traumatized by World War I. It’s an abyss to make you dizzy. Wozzeck Metropolitan Opera No. There is no definitive text. Georg Büchner wrote Woyzeck just before he died of typhoid in 1837, aged 24. 15 Mar 14 / New York Times : A listless ‘Wozzeck… Mattei is almost completely upstaged by Sabine Theunissen’s vast and ugly set and the huge and flickering projections of old newsreels, jerky cartoons, charcoal and ink drawings and war maps. Past productions have been more atmospheric and picturesque. Gerhard Siegel's Captain comes close to vocal caricature occasionally but it doesn't make him any less manically dangerous, and conversely, Christian Van Horn's Doctor is the soul of sniping, calm cruelty. Alban Berg James Levine had previously been in charge of Wozzeck at the Met; Nézet-Séguin brings a transparency to the score that Levine eschewed in favor of an expressionistic in-your-face approach. Wozzeck, Alban Berg’s 1925 opera, is a milestone in opera. The whole world has gone mad. The remarkable crescendos on a single note (D) in the third act have a viciousness to them which could make a brave man tremble, but Kentridge opts to show us people dancing in the tavern at this moment when we should feel nothing but violence. Intentionally, nothing meshed. Still, the opera remains a special occasion, partly because its sometimes-atonal demands are steep and the original, unfinished Georg Buchner play has the kind of expressive leeway that somehow gives voice to whatever you experienced en route to the opera house. It is often thought of as the first modern play and forerunner of the social dramas of the 19th century. Simulcast: The 1 p.m. Jan. 11 performance will be … 20 Mar 14 / Broadway World: Hampson is a moving Wozzeck in belated role debut. Bleak and hopeless: William Kentridge's Wozzeck at the Met,,,, Aleksandra Kurzak impresses as the Met’s new Violetta, To add a comment, please sign in or register. As the faithless Marie, Eliza van den Heever has plenty of vocal richness to offer but scaled back into a thin, reedy tone in moments of betrayal. The abrasive score, inspired by the horrors of World War I, has tremendous power and is an overwhelming experience, challenging orchestra, singers and audience alike. Edward Gardner's conducting brings out the nuances of Berlioz's complex score, but The Met's concert staging lacks theatrical thrust. Wozzeck, Alban Berg’s 1925 opera, is a milestone in opera. © 2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC Terms of Use/Privacy Policy, Elza van den Heever (in red) as Marie and Peter Mattei (far right) in the title role of William Kentridge's new production of Berg's "Wozzeck. Despite theatrical drawbacks, I can heartily recommend this due to Yannick Nézet-Séguin's staggering understanding of all facets of the score and the Met Orchestra's brilliant playing. The voice is solid, if a bit weak at bottom, and she uses a raspy tone with Wozzeck in their second act confrontation which is both sneering and disrespectful. Metropolitan Opera House, New York The remarkable crescendos on a single note (D) in the third act have a viciousness to them which … The image is of a man lugging chairs around and walking on duckboards through chaos. In the title role, Mattei had a vocal magnitude that gave Wozzeck tragic stature that’s hard to come by in a character who is a psychological time bomb. Marie is handsomely handled by Elza van den Heever. Christian Van Horn’s Doctor, Christopher Ventris’s Drum-Major and Gerhard Siegel’s Captain are splendid caricatures which outgross Grosz. His work has appeared in many periodicals and newspapers. Alban Berg’s opera Wozzeck is a misfit in the canonic repertoire.It is one of the finest opera scores made but is so particular to a style from a specific era—Expressionism—and so downbeat, that it both contravenes the grand opera tradition of the major houses and exists at a distance from the kind of sympathetic personal experience one can safely find in Verdi, … This revival, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Sequin and starring Peter Mattei, opened at The Metropolitan New York in January this year. The only real person is Wozzeck’s unfaithful wife (Elza van den Heever) who tries to take comfort from the Bible and the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery. But the emphasis should be on his inter-personal relationships with a deranged doctor, a sadistic captain and a woman who is equally bored, scared and exhausted by him and life. Michael Mayer’s colorful and busy production of, At the helm of the world's most expensive opera house: Met General Manager Peter Gelb, Serving a greater purpose: in conversation with Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Visual storytelling: Ken Howard on performance photography, A good, if not particularly touching, Madama Butterfly from Hui He at The Met. Film and projections have played a major part in William Kentridge's productions at the Met: Shostakovich's The Nose has probably never been so well served as with his nasty, witty, nine-year old production, and Berg's Lulu, seen in 2017, was a stunner as well, even if the projections often took on a life of their own and swamped the stage action. He is the author of many books, including The Story of the Orchestra, four volumes in the Black Dog & Leventhal Opera Library, and, most recently, Maria Callas: A Musical Biography. News, reviews, features and podcast on theatre across the UK. The opera’s destructive gang of three — Gerhard Siegel as the captain, Christina Van Horn as the doctor, and Christopher Ventris as the drum major — avoided Gothic caricatures of evil and just were who they were.