2012 Spring Tour, organized by InBerlin Reisen, was a spectacular success.
The tour began in Dresen, where Tte splendour of the architecture impressed even those who had been before. The group took advantage of the fact that Frauenkirche, the huge castle, the baroque cathedral, the Brühl balcony upon the river Elbe and the Semper opera were all in walking distance.
This report from Herbert Glöckner:
Our first opera, Salome, was in the mighty and impressively beautiful Semper Oper with the Staatskapelle Dresden, certainly one of the finest opera orchestras I know. Add to this the incredible acoustics of the opera house and a strong cast of singers where everybody met the highest standards and we were overwhelmed by this opera as never before.
The next day we went to the lovely city of Meissen with its famous porcelain manufacture, elegant gothic cathedral, a castle of course and, in the evening, again to a performance at the Semper opera, this time Donizettis L’elisir d’amore. If we had expected a little light funny bit of schmaltz we were taught a lesson: fun it was, even great fun but an inspired masterpiece, colourful and with delicate filigree and the singing was of untainted beauty, without exception. During “Una furtiva lagrima,” nobody dared breathe. It was perfect and blissful bel canto.
In Dresden, we went to see the fabulous Green Vault of Augustus the Strong with its unmatched treasures.
Then we drove to Berlin, where we saw or heard rather, as it was a concert performance, Tannhäuser at the Philharmonie. This was most likely the best Tannhäuser all members of the RWS present had ever heard. A concert version lends itself ideally for Wagner operas; the orchestral part appears especially transparent. About the singers of this evening we all could only rave: Nina Stemme as Elisabeth, Marina Prudenskaja as Venus, Robert Dean Smith sang Tannhäuser for the diseased Torsten Kerl and, a special highlight, Christian Gerhaher was Wolfram von Eschenbach. Marek Janowski, who is well known as Wagner conductor, added further glory. All participants of this trip agreed in rare consensus that the operas we have seen so far were musically simply overwhelmingly fabulous and unforgettable.
The trip ended with a terrific firework performance of Verdi’s 6th opera: I due Foscari and endless jubilant applause. The music of this opera is forceful, colourful and demanding and Ramón Vargas sang the challenging role of the young Foscari with a facility which allowed the audience the concentration on the music without having to fear any problem with high notes. The long lasting standing ovation at the end was fully deserved.
The day had begun with a trip to Potsdam and the palace of Sans Souci where the group admired y the splendour of the park and the Rococo palace.
This was followed by something none of us had ever seen and which is, one does not really understand why, rather neglected in the opera repertoire: The Bronze Horse by Daniel François Esprit Auber. This is a very comical comic opera with charming bel canto music which nonetheless makes high demands on the singers, especially the sopranos. The cast was fully up to it and we left the opera house a bit surprised as we got more than expected and in high spirits thanks to the enchanting music.
We also attended a concert with baroque music in the Chamber Music Hall. This concert was highlight. It left a very strong impression on the group and was much loved, thanks to Xavier de Maistre, the uncontested best harpist, who played with unheard virtuosity and produced sounds on the harp never imagined.
Another great and most enjoyed surprise was a performance of the Young State Opera of Shostakovich’s opera Moskau Tscherjomuschki with a huge number of young singers who all sang with competence, enthusiasm and excellent, cultivated voices.
Then came a concert, in the big hall of the Philharmonic. Vladimir Ashkenazy conducted a program with Berlioz, Liszt’s 2nd piano concerto and Shostakovich 10th symphony. A change of mood came with a production of the ballet, Eugene Onegin, choreographed by the South African John Cranko, who was acclaimed worldwide, with a live orchestra in the pit, of course. It was danced with an elegance and effortlessness one does not see very often and the leaps of the dancers made one wonder if they had rubber legs.
The Deutsche Oper was the venue for the 129th performance of The Marriage of Figaro, a Götz Friedrich production from 1978. The production is still as fresh as it was when it opened.
There’s no doubt the participants enjoyed this trip very much; they commended the RWS for the excellent choice and interesting variety of the program, and were happy with the arrangements made by Stephan Duerre and his agency IN BERLIN REISEN. Most asked about plans for 2013.