By: Gianmarco Segato
Claus Guth’s production of The Marriage of Figaro has had a lengthier gestation period than most. It premiered at the 2006 Salzburg Festival, was quickly revived there in 2007 and 2009, and culminated in the German director staging all three of Mozart’s collaborations with librettist Lorenzo da Ponte at the 2011 festival (Don Giovanni being added in 2008 and Così fan tuttein 2009). Initially, Guth resisted Mozart’s iconic comedy, questioning whether it was possible for him to confront the dangerous elements in a work whose music he had enjoyed with “uncontrolled excess”* while growing up. It was the Salzburg production’s first conductor, Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who managed to shift Guth’s focus away from Figaro’s distractingly glittery musical delights towards its intelligent, witty exploration of real, human relationships—the very elements that pushed comic opera beyond its more formulaic, slapstick Italian commedia dell’arte roots.
From this emerged an interpretation that relocates the action from 18th-century Andalusia to fin-de-siècle Central Europe by way of the intense, modernist stage dramas of Ibsen and Strindberg, and the films of Ingmar Bergman.
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By Stephan Bonfield
When we first meet the hero Siegfried, we encounter a man-child-demigod trying to learn about his own past and identity from someone who can tell him very little about either. What the unscrupulous Mime does know, he buttresses with untruths in a petulant, fitful manner, claiming to be both Siegfried's father and mother, so as to use him for his own sinister purposes to acquire the Ring.
We may not realize it right away, but our first encounter with Siegfried is with someone whose very human qualities we know all too well, recognizable from earlier stages in our own lives—naïveté, innocence, manipulability—in short, someone with an underdeveloped identity.
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On Wednesday, February 3, our Opera Insights series featured Christine Goerke, the opera world’s most sought-after Brünnhilde (currently starring in our production of Siegfried), in an intimate evening of conversation about her life and career. The host was recently retired Toronto Star theatre critic, Richard Ouzounian. Listen to their immensely entertaining and candidly revealing conversation here!
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Sara Fulgoni in the COC production of Bluebeard's Castle. Photo: Michael Cooper © 2001