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fragments of sentences edited together from various recordings of the opera.

Leonore (Nadine Lehner) appeared on the stage in the opening moments. There was no question of her being disguised as a man—she wore hotpants, high-heeled boots and a top that left one shoulder bare. Her anxiety as she searched for Florestan was evident and she behaved as a kind of stage manager, manipulating two dummy-like figures that came to life as Marzelline and Jaquino, and attempting to move the set so that the next scene could slide into place.

■  Nadine Lehner as Leonore and Claudio Otelli as Pizarro in Bremen

There was a drop in tension in Act 2. Some members of the audience were seated onstage, arranged as if for the Last Supper, with Florestan on the table. The soloists had to sing from behind this, encountering problems with the projection of their voices into the auditorium as a result. During Leonore’s melodrama the heroine was accompanied not by the orchestra, but by Florestan playing on a piano that floated in from the flies. After the performance of the Leonore Overture No. 3 microphones were taken into the audience so that members of the public could read out the stage directions and the Minister’s words, and in the finale the soloists and chorus were all located in the upper circle, leaving the stage empty of action.

Lehner sang with extraordinary, steely intensity, though a sense of warmth was sometimes missed, and while Christian-Andreas Engelhardt’s tenor sound continues to gain in power and substance, the role of Florestan sometimes stretched him to his limits. Claudio Otelli’s brutally sinister Pizarro was formidably bronze-voiced and the lean bass of Christoph Heinrich emphasized the benign aspects of Rocco. Marysol Schalit, occasionally a little shrill, and the fresh-voiced Joel Scott were well suited to the roles of Marzelline and Jaquino, and the chorus sounded splendid, although the celebratory finale was almost too much of a good thing.

Yoel Gamzou, the house’s Generalmusikdirektor, conducted a compelling, moving performance, so full of dynamism and contrasts that it sometimes presented a challenge to the singers, and the Bremen Philharmonic played superbly. wolfgang denker

Mannheim Ekaterina Vasileva, the 30-year-old director of the Opera and Ballet Theatre in Chelyabinsk in central Russia, was assigned this Don Giovanni at the nationaltheater (July 17) as the winner of a competition for directors run by the city of Mannheim. She served up a decadent cocktail of comedy, grotesquerie, pop culture, trash and surrealism.

The action, in designs by Sonya Kobozeva, was set around a black-tiled swimming pool, complete with inflatable flamingos. Don Giovanni was threatened by giant pink

Opera, December 2018


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