Michael Thalheimer’s non-staging of Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail for the Deutsche Staatsoper has an interesting strategy to prevent the audience from running away during the interval – it has no intervals. The good news is that the transmigration for the Schillertheater has the dubious advantage of allowing the whole audience to see the show (in the old Staatsoper Unter den Linden, the director carefully chose every blind spot of the stage to place a singer on it). As a result, now the audience knows that there is very little difference between seeing and not seeing what does not happen in this production. Pity, for the cast here gathered could act.
Replacing an ailing Susan Gritton in the last minute, Cornelia Götz, scheduled to sing Blondchen later this year, jumped in for Konstanze, a role she has been singing for a while. I saw Ms. Götz only once, as an accurate but small-scale Queen of the Night at the Met a couple of years ago, something that accounts for the fact that I would not classify her as an “ambitious Blondchen”. Her soprano is creamier and fuller than many a Konstanze out there, but the easy and spontaneous top register resents a more “dramatic” approach and the low notes are only occasionally there. That said, what really matters is the fact that she is a natural Mozartian singer, with a truly lovely voice, almost perfect runs, a good trill and exquisite high mezza voce. She is also attentive to the words, adding some illuminating inflections here and there and reciting her dialogues with spontaneity and engagement. Since last year, Anna Prohaska’s Blondchen has become more natural, less heavily underlined and more seductive too, but she would have welcomed a less rapid tempo for Welche Wonne, welche Lust. Kenneth Tarver finds no difficulties in the role of Belmonte, pouring liquid coloratura throughout his entirely homogeneous voice. His tenore is a bit too leggero for Belmonte, but what may be bothersome after some time is the monochromatic quality of his singing. Florian Hoffmann’s Spieltenor proved to be more substantial and he is definitely more comfortable with the heroics of Frisch zum Kampfe. As for Reinhard Dorn, it is true that he is a legitimate basso profondo, who could tackle the impossible low notes without much ado. That said, his singing is so poorly supported that he basically speaks everything above his low register. I have to understand that he was in one of those days in which the voice is not really responsive and praise his professionalism in showing up on stage for a role so difficult to replace*. Friedrich Haider knows his Mozart and offered a variegated, lively and clear performance. The orchestra responded with spirit, being a central part of the action in its faithful portrayal of the wide range of emotional atmospheres in this score. The chorus was not immune to the animation and sang with enthusiasm and accuracy.
* It must be said that the gratitude for Cornelia Götz’s last-minute replacement in such a difficult role did not inspire the Staatsoper either to print a small notice for the cast-lists sold in the foyer or even – until now – to credit her on their website.