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Home Culture A well-accompanied Erwartung closes the Teatro Real’s tribute to Schoenberg | Culture

A well-accompanied Erwartung closes the Teatro Real’s tribute to Schoenberg | Culture

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Expectation concludes the memory that the Teatro Real has offered to the composer Arnold Schoenberg on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of his birth. In addition to two stage presences, this one and the Lunar Pierrot recent, we must highlight the two concerts of the recent week of the Meta4 quartet, with their String quartet number 2with soprano.

This vintage is not bad, especially since Schoenberg’s scenic corpus is very little given to operatic joys. If we except his great opera Moses and Aaron, which could be seen a few years ago on this same stage, its stage examples are rare and always uncomfortable. From the expressionist period, this Expectation (1909) and a curious experience, The happy hand (1910-13), difficult to perform because it is a difficult work, with a large orchestra, choir and soloists and a very short duration, between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the version. There remains, then, his Lunar Pierrot, piece chosen to open this tribute and you have to go back to the twenties and thirties to see its unclassifiable comedy From overnightan opera that is recovering but that combines difficulty and reduced duration and, as a culmination, the already mentioned Moses and Aaron.

Expectation It is, really, a monodrama, a singer alone on the scene with a full orchestra and a duration of just over half an hour. And that is one of the great problems of this title, a kind of curse that hangs over short operas and that has affected memorable titles from that period at the beginning of the 20th century; from Moorby Stravinsky, to the two operas by Ravel, Bluebeard’s castleBartók, and even our Altarpiece of Master Pedro, by Falla. The best panorama of creators of their time marginalized by the fetish of their durations. Naturally, you can always add several titles in one session; This is how the great Puccini understood it when he put together his three short operas in The Triptychalthough they have ended up separating due to the whim of programmers or whatever.

Malin Byström (A Woman), en ‘La espera’ (Expectation).Javier del Real (Royal Theater)

And that curse of how to match Expectation with something else it is perceived in this production; it has been customary to offer meetings Expectation con Bluebeard’s castleby Bartok, there are quite a few affinities between them, but the accumulation of difficulties may be a brake.

The option chosen for this production, to bring together Expectation with Poulenc’s most popular title, The human voice, has interest, but also friction. Both are about two monologues of two women desperate for a separation. But, there are stylistic abysses between two operas separated by more than half a century. Schoenberg’s monodrama, set to music based on texts by Marie Pappenheim, is a summit of the anguish that expressionism inherited from psychoanalysis and various fears that were beginning to grip men and women. The protagonist of The wait (its title in Spanish) has much more to do with The Scream, by Edvard Much, an anguish that is difficult to explain and that seems to seek its monsters within his own psyche. The woman of Expectation He wanders through a forest in search of his loved one only to end up finding him dead. Everything is a symbol, starting with that forest that she terrifies with hardly any explanations. Schoenberg himself certifies this in a letter from 1930: “It is necessary that the woman always be seen in the forest, so that it can be seen that she is afraid of him! Thus the entire piece can be understood as if it were a nightmare.” And this observation is relevant because the stage director of this production, Christof Loy, does not take notice and moves the action to a closed room, which blurs the type of nightmare of the woman who sees her deceased lover resurrected, which It’s more than a true nightmare provides.

Rossy de Palma (The Woman), in ‘Silence’.Javier del Real (Royal Theater)

Naturally, this anti-Schoenbergian displacement of the action makes it coincide with the other action, that of the woman that Jean Cocteau conceived for The human voice, who expresses her fears over the phone about a lover who has just left her to announce his marriage to another woman. This is a well-known fiction, Pedro Almodóvar, for example, has reflected it on two occasions, one about the same story and another with a more grotesque and fun mention in his Women at the edge of a nervous attack. Juxtaposing these two titles is not exactly a bad idea, but, in my opinion, not the best either. The differences in time, emotionality and symbols do not seem to add more interest than what they already have. Nor does the music of Francis Poulenc have much relation to that of the first Schoenberg. It is perhaps not important, but it leaves a trace of ease that perhaps the presentation of Expectation at the Teatro Real for the first time I could have avoided it.

Add to this, that curious tip from Rossy de Palma, Silencea monologue that has more redundancy than specificity, despite the quality of the texts of Wilde, Brecht and the spark of Rossy de España.

In the chapter on coincidences, the musical excellence of both operas and many of the pathological traits that move the two women who become a sample of musical abilities stand out. In short, we need two excellent singers and, as a corollary, a well-conducted orchestra in a state of grace. Fortunately, this Teatro Real production has provided all of this. The two sopranos nail their roles. Romanian Ermonela Jaho adapts to the role of Elle’s sufferer in The human voice, with a repertoire of commendable musicality and sonic charm. At times, it almost resonates with a Melisande that Poulenc veils but does not completely cover in this opera that is among the best that he produced in the 1950s in opera.

But, the bar, already high, is raised not a few degrees in the interpretation of Frau, the overwhelmed and hysterical wife of Expectation. The Swedish soprano Malin Bystrom adapts like a glove to a score that requires well-sustained bass and provocative jumps to the treble in moments of greatest tension, a range that is not usually abundant in soprano registers. And, of course, all with a sound support that manages to be heard over an orchestra like the one proposed by Schoenberg. And yet, there is style, finesse and the full range of emotions of a character that makes the portrait of her unbalanced. AND, last but not leasea tuning and tonal adjustment in a searingly atonal opera that makes it almost effortless.

Malin Byström (A Woman), en ‘La espera (Expectation)’.Javier del Real (Royal Theater)

And the last actor is missing, the orchestra and its conductor, the young French conductor Jérémie Rhorer. If the entire session has sounded orchestrally at the highest level, the highlight comes from his version of Expectation, one of those works considered impossible, and when it sounds as good as they make it sound, the Teatro Real’s Main Orchestra becomes transparent, elegant and fluid. A truly luxurious finishing touch to close a tribute to the giant Arnold Schoenberg.

Regarding the scenic area, I have already mentioned what seems questionable to me in Christof Loy’s proposal, but its excesses do not eliminate a scenic domain that accommodates the action to visual proposals very well adjusted to its course. I dare say that this stage production is one of the ones I like the most of the ones I don’t like. And this includes Rossy de Palma’s monologue, dispensable, but not annoying, and funny due to the comic touch of the well-known actress, little else.

As a summary, if anyone still had doubts about how admirable Schoenberg was as a composer, don’t miss this production. I don’t remember a Expectation so well adjusted sonically and musically and that goes for everything else.

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