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Opera: Dragon and Marsh – Critique

Gert Henning-Jensen, Peter Lodahl and Sofie Elkjær-Jensen. Photograph: Miklos Szabo (from the Royal Theater website)

26 years have passed since Peter Arnold Heises Drot and Marsk from 1878 have been last arrange on the Royal Theater. An awesome disgrace for such a superb opera about one thing as nationwide as the homicide of Erik 5. Clipping in Finderup laid in 1286. The final time was in 1993 with 15 performances. Otherwise, we shall be back in 1974 to seek out performances by Heise's work. So it’s an occasion that takes place – like around the rain – once in every era because it seems now.

Subsequently, I was additionally completely satisfied to see that it was scheduled on this yr's season. But less happy to study that the trainer was Kasper Holten, who warned “the story of a coup d'état staged as fake news”, which made me – yes, you guessed right – skeptical.

So mistaken, fortunately, it didn’t go into the current set-up that Holten had been operating with Amy Lane. The latter identify doesn't inform me much. Sadly, one has stopped bringing biographies of the collaborating individuals in this system booklets at The Royal Theater. Throughout, that they had been closely reliant on what one may worry and anticipate when Holten's identify is on the poster. Maybe it was because of this that the setup on the entire truly labored rather well.

The set-up was closed for so-called “opera hour”, which is described in the program as follows:

“Holten & Lane's production is set in so-called” opera time “, featuring a mixture of 19th-century scenery, medieval touches and contemporary underwear!”

With the requirements that Holten has beforehand set for opera discrepancies, that is virtually to be considered boring. We have been largely in a world that was a mix of the Center Ages, the final half of the 19th century and the everlasting so-called “timeless universe”, which most operas have regularly seen in. All in all, a sort of indefinable, idealized fairytale world.

The scene design consisted of some giant stage plates that would run round within the stage room and be put collectively so that they shaped totally different places. The stage area had on both sides some giant mirrors that made the room seem bigger than it was, so that the stage plates seemed to be a labyrinth that stretched out endlessly. It should undoubtedly present one thing that the characters have gone wild or come astray in life. Holten additionally makes use of the labyrinth in its setup of Wagner's Tannhäuser (2009), the place it has to provide a slightly equal effect.

The free and circumferential stage plates have been made in such a method that on the one hand that they had an idyllic nature of the type that one can see at the golden age work at Thorvaldsen's Museum or comparable locations. Then again, there were grey stones or concrete. They might then be put together and type partly castles and castles or forests relying on what was to be depicted.

In accordance with the program's additional account of the so-called “opera hour”, the thought was that nature ought to mirror the fairy story and the reality-clear Erik Klippings world, while the grey stones ought to illustrate the raw, real world that Marsk Stig and the individuals reside in.

It worked fantastic for that function, and finally the king's unreal and nationwide romantic world merges with the onerous, real-political actuality. Particularly, the forests are in a gritty and cute, sad glow on the last stage of the Finderup barn. However in any other case the lighting was virtually fixed, not a lot occurred here. Shades in the lighting can in any other case be a fairly efficient approach of supporting altering moods.

General, “opera hour” was too little to catch the adventurous, folk-tale temper that has introduced for Heise's opera, and it was a disgrace. Although Holten exhibits applicable restraint, it shortly turns into monotonous to take a look at the stage plates. Greatest succeeded in capturing the suitable temper in Anja Vang Krag's costumes there

In addition, you – unusually – make virtually nothing out of the stage flooring that appeared like something from a gymnasium or a rehearsal room. Uncooked and untreated and full of scratches and stickers and the like. I've observed that this a part of the scene is usually something you overlook to embellish in Denmark. It doesn't imply a lot in case you sit on the ground. However in case you get a bit up within the room, it provides a fairly poor and unprofessional impression.

Worse, perhaps the setup – regardless of how a lot you flip and flip the stage plates – is scenographically quite quiet. And this is one thing of an unintentional distinction to a work that’s quite actionable opera. Not like Figaro's Wedding ceremony or the like, where there are such a lot of intrigues that it's inconceivable to maintain all of them alive. But the motion packed in the best way that one massive, dramatic occasion in Drot and Marsk replaces the opposite and drives the motion ahead. It starts with the truth that Marsk Stig leaves his spouse, Ingeborg, to the king, who we all know is a barely tarnished determine, as a result of he earlier in the identical act has seduced the chariot woman Aase. The subsequent dramatic occasion is when the marshal returns residence from the conflict and discovers that the king has been abusive at Ingeborg. So then. Here together with her personal words:

“He advised you lifeless in leadership,
then he pulled me by pressure. “

Then there’s the confrontation between the king and the marsh on the county council in Viborg. Because the conspiracy assembly, where they’re planning to kill the king and so on. The whole work is a steadily growing pleasure course right from the start to the decisive climax, where the events peak within the Finderup barn and the choir / the individuals deludes the king's dying and fears for Denmark's future virtually unchanged use of folks songs:

“God look to all of us in grace!
Now the nation is standing in the moist! “

Dramatically, the work from Heise and the copywriter Christian Richardt are put collectively quite nicely.

I can't assist here evaluating to a totally totally different style, specifically Hitchcock's masterpiece The Man Who Knew Too Much, which the grasp instructor recorded in two variations, from 1934 and 1956 respectively. The 1956 version is the most effective and probably the most recognized. When the comparison is justified in describing the motion in Drot and Marsk, it is because Hitchcock's movies are similarly initiated with some events and characters that unambiguously define the path of the strain curve. At first we see an orchestra that plays and the digital camera focuses on the janitshare, which with a strong pelvic layer begins the movie. Later, we are advised that a person will probably be shot in the Royal Albert Hall through the development of Arthur Benjamin's Nice Canteen The Storm Clouds. The killing shot should fall exactly on the pelvic layer, so nobody notices it. The motion is condensed and then concentrated in the direction of this significant blow everyone knows should occur. Finally, Hitchcock even takes the digital camera right right down to the score, the place we will virtually rely the variety of stroke strains in the direction of the fatal pelvic layer.

More nuances and strikes have been added to Hitchcock's masterpiece, which exhibits how superior the grasp is to the film language's instruments. But the description above goes to point out that the action in Drot and Marsk works dramatically in the identical method. We all know the top. We know that the king should die, and we additionally know who will kill him and additionally why, even when you’ve got not seen the opera before. The opera public in 1878 would at the least know the events. However even a contemporary viewers has heard of Marsk Stig and Finderup charge? Already initially of the opera, occasions that inevitably result in the ultimate climax we all know should occur, specifically the king's want, and his humiliation of Rane Johnson, which makes him swear that he will avenge himself on the king.

When the dramatic motion is as nice and progressive as described, it’s a pity that you don’t help this a bit more in the scenography and in the setup at all. It’s more essential that the dramatic excitement works than to focus sharply on the king's internal world for the outer world by driving around together with his stage data.

The psychological depth of the characters never appears with the exercise that appears from “opera hour”. You focus an excessive amount of on King Erik and attempt to unfold the thought to the other characters. It’d go if Erik had been the dominant character. It's not he. Marsk Stig, Ingeborg and Aase are also there. And right here the thought doesn’t match. Why is Aase and Ingeborg in the Grey World. It’d go together with Ingeborg, but Aase appears to share the king's carefree mind. In any case, the characters will not be minimize as sq. as the black-and-white or gray-green – proclamation from the trainer couple pulling over them.

You may have accomplished extra within the private instruction. Here too, the setup was a bit too quiet, which opposed the dramatic action. The individuals have been persistently the same of their expression. The scene between King and Aase earlier than arriving at Finderup was too confused. What would you show right here? The scene labored greatest between Ingeborg and Marsk Stig, the place he experiences the clock that has passed her.

Sine Bundgaard and Peter Lodahl. Photograph: Miklos Szabo (from the Royal Theater web site)

Otherwise, there’s plenty of substance both traditionally and within the characteristic that one can work on with. Ingeborg's alleged rape for example. The King is of a special opinion:

“With violence, marsh ladder,
Who makes use of violence towards ladies?
Ideally, I shriek,
Mom should speak about this
Was her will properly nearly as good as mine! “

Examine with Ingeborg's rationalization above. The opera is simply as open as to what happened between the king and Ingeborg, as Mozart / da Pontes Don Giovanni is with what actually occurred in Donna Anna's room. The folks track Marsk Stig takes one thing more unique in Ingeborg's and Marsk Stig's celebration. It lets the king's obnoxious intentions shine via clearly when Marsk Stig leaves him Ingeborg, and the king assures him that she is in good arms:

“It swore younger King Erik,
he smiles underneath skins:
“Her no extra hurt,
than she was my sister.

So properly I’ve to protect her,
so properly i ought to save:
no more harm to her,
than you have been at house. ”

Within the people music, we also (virtually) come into the bedroom; and the woman's reluctance is left unsure:

“They lit up the wax lights,
they stood on the desk and burned;
a lot so lovely Spouse Ingeborg wept,
they adopted her with the king to mattress.

It was pretty Mrs. Ingeborg
her utmost quince:
he rode to her both previous and herring,
he laid her together with his aspect. “

Most ballads concerning the occasions in 1286 show Marsk Stig's celebration near Erik Klippings Drab, whose refrain is precisely the opera's credo: “Now the land is standing in Vaade”. The opera thus uses each traditions. Heise and Richardt have – roughly talking – omitted some central passages from a practice that takes half for Marsk Stig and places the king in poor mild and supplemented with parts from a practice that highlights the dominion as a nationwide accident. On the inventive grip, one achieves to create some extra ambiguous characters. This does not mean that distinctive characters can’t be fascinating, because they will achieve this properly!

Nevertheless, consistent with the favored poem Marsk Stig, the set-up has quite clearly taken Ingeborg's get together; and there’s not a lot doubt left with the instructors. So far as an inexpensive selection is worried, the publication is taken under consideration. But now that the opera makes all of it so ambiguous, one might simply have drawn the nuances of this depiction extra strongly and have gotten a less unambiguous and more fascinating Ingeborg. Not least as a result of the opera truly modifications aspect and ends up virtually with the king, it might have been extra conducive to the stability between the characters if the king was not so unambiguously guilty as he’s being completed within the present setup.

More luck, furthermore, one doesn’t have with the portrayal of King Erik, whose all-consuming want is the driving drive in historical past. You let it’s left to him within the “opera hour” mentioned above. Too dangerous. For the king is an fascinating and ambiguous character that incorporates loads of material. Notably in the King's crazy portrayal of hedgehog as an image of a sinful soul, which we hear in the third act. In the setup here, the instructors have dropped the motion to a psychological hospital or comparable. Galeanstalten probably the most used instruments within the regiteatre's toolbox. It happens at the very least as soon as a season that you simply see how the characters go for a experience on the galley hall. Last season it was Rigoletto before it Parsifal. In Berlin, the tannhäuser is placed within the hospital bed. Now you need to move on.

Too dangerous the instructors don't get more out of the stage or the Erik Klipping character. Peter Lodahl, who sang the celebration as the king, in any other case had a pleasant voice. Good voices have been there everywhere, in addition to Johan Reuter, who snag the social gathering as Marsk Stig must be emphasized Sofie Elkjær Jensen as the alive Aase and Gert Henning-Jensen as Rane Johnson (the king's chamberlain). In relation to the latter, I need to once once more emphasize that it is a pleasure when even the marginally smaller central parties are occupied nicely. It might carry a setup up to an additional degree since you sense that it has been labored via.

Lastly, Sine Bundgaard have to be emphasised for a wonderful interpretation of Mrs Ingeborg. The reservations I have concerning the interpretation character I will attribute to the instruction, which fairly clearly takes Ingeborg's get together. The opera is – as described – considerably more ambiguous. But it’s affordable to select at that time. Sine Bundgaard's interpretation properly supported this selection, specifically that the king was truly abusing her.

A common caveat for all of the singers is that none of them appropriately managed to make the Danish language so clear that one might understand it with out the assistance of the overtones. This solely succeeded sometimes. That is notably annoying when it’s said in the program in an interview with conductor Michael Schønwandt that you’ve simply labored so much with this. And Danish is particularly difficult to understand when it is sung. Although you’re naturally conversant in it higher than Italian and German. It was subsequently additionally unfortunate that one had chosen to go away the upper text in English. In all probability for the sake of the various tourists, now the Danes ought to have the ability to perceive it sung instantly. A nasty mistake when this was not the case. I'm high-quality with the truth that there’s additionally the textual content in English. However they need to also be there in Danish. You may love to do in Deutsche Oper Berlin or Bayerische Staatsoper, where you’ve got two subtitles: one within the local language and one in English.

Musically, Heise's opera was also in good palms with Michael Schønwandt, who beforehand recorded the work (see under), and The Royal Opera Choir. Drot and Marsk can greatest be described musically as Danish Verdi, the place the central is dramatic motion with giant, lovely corridors and lyrical arias. Here the similarity also seemed up. The music is way darker than you see it at Verdi. In addition, a strong, Danish part of Heise's wealthy means to write down Danish songs / romances, which is probably what he’s greatest recognized for. This was notably evident in Rane's music in the first act, “It was virgin swan lily”. Musically, choirs and orchestra made each the dramatic and the stagnant lyric forged into a lovely, musical dramatic entire that leaves little question that it is a darkish and gloomy opera ending with a kingdom in disintegration.

One ultimate observe goes to the semi-obscure premiere introduction. Why do you must meet up to 75 minutes before the present for a 45-minute introduction that is actually with out content? It’s principally concerning the audience singing “Jutland Between the Twelfth Garden”, to which Heise has written melody. A pure diversion, since you did not have something to say concerning the work. In fact, references to #MeToo, which get the audience – yes you guessed right – come to the fore. Nowhere on the planet do you giggle as much as within the Royal Theater. I feel I’ll contemplate strongly if I need to come to the premiere launches in the future.

Despite vital reservations about each personal instruction and set design, I’m truly nicely glad. Heise's opera is each musical and lovely and dramatic, it is well-functioning and has fascinating characters. As a nationwide opera, I would like it fairly than Carl Nielsen's masquerade (though the selection between do two is troublesome!). Even though from the director's front solely partially succeeded in supplementing the motion and the music meaningfully, no less than the instructors' ideas fail to stand in the best way of the work, which, subsequently, can largely be loved by itself premises the place it really works greatest .

Peter A. Heise, Drot and Marsk. Libretto by Christian Richardt. The Royal Theater on March 23, 2019. Plays until Might 25, 2019.


The Royal Theater's web site with information about the performance:

Conductor Michael Schønwandt about Drot and Marsk, advised by Mariann Sejer (program article)

Mariann Sejer, From Drugs to Music (program article)

Leif V. S. Balthzersen, Peter Heise and Drot and Marsk (program article)

Danske Folkeviser Quantity I, by Ernst Frandsen (Thaning & Appels Forlag, 1966)

Drot and Marsk are in a superb recording from 1992 with the DR Symphony Orchestra beneath the leadership of Michael Schønwandt with quite a lot of wonderful singers, thus Poul Elming as King Erik, Bent Norup as Marsk Stig, Inga Nielsen as Aase and Eva Johansson as Fru Ingeborg. It's launched on Chandos:

It can be bought from Danacord, Though not on the website, it is found within the bodily retailer.

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