Category Archives: Chantez, chantez!


Karwoche - der Tod im Schlussverkauf.

Heute das letzte Mal Matthäus-Passion mit Stefan Bootz als Jesus. Eine Kollegin: “Weißt du, ich nehme das symbolisch. Vielleicht soll es sagen, Jesus war vielleicht ganz anders – groß und ohne Haare!”

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Mit der Axt

Schrati on Stage!

Bodo Wartkes “Ja, Schatz!” bei der Langen Theaternacht. Das war – Dank Peter!! – mal ne richtig geile Sache!!

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Ode to Joyce

In German, we can use the same word for tall and great – groß.
I once sat at a table with a tall priest. There wasn’t a lot of space and when he tried to get up someone said “yeah, it’s a bit uncomfortable for someone who is groß”. He answered: “I am not a große person, I am only tall”.

Yesterday, I stood next to Joyce DiDonato and I was surprised that she is by far not as tall as she appears on stage. Still, she is groß, a truly great person!

It seems quite odd: going to Italy to see a German opera. Going to see an American walking through the jungle of German s, sch, ch, and ig sounds. But I didn’t choose by language. I chose by heart.

I was thrilled by Der Rosenkavalier (or enflammiert, as Baron Ochs would say) and I admire Joyce DiDonato, so I could either wait for her to come to Giessen (well… Gwyneth Jones cancelled Der Besuch der Alten Dame only six weeks before opening night this year…) or go where I can see the great lady disguised as the young boy.

Fate dictated we had to go to La Scala.

I would say that even our cute little theater here looks more spectacular from the outside than La Scala. Plain stone walls from the outside, small, no foyer full of pomp, narrow corridors. As we still wondered about the underwhelming simplicity of the place, we entered the auditorium. First thought: there cannot be this much space in this building! But ultimately, all the red velvet plush seats, the big circle of boxes and galleries on six floors, the huge curtain, all the gold and red, all this space that would be occupied by sonar waves where ostentatious enough to be overwhelming.

The stage design worked with a lot of mirrors, creating a brilliant palais (and bedroom and park) full of genuine little optical surprises. [Production Photos]

Joyce DiDonato as Octavian, could there been anything more delightful? Her Octavian wasn’t as “dual” as one might expect a pant role to be (as for the gender aspect – but I think that was solely due to too tight pants!), but she played it no less convincing, no less beautiful, no less heart-melting. It felt like I had to drown in Octavian’s emotions. And could there have been a cuter Mariandel? Thumbs up for the “Wiener Schmäh”, I loved it!

For the presentation of the rose, dressed in a white tail-code, Octavian descended a staircase, full of dignity and magic. One of the most beautiful moments of the whole opera, I almost cried. I did cry in the end, Octavian and Sophie finally dared to follow their heart and no one else stopped them (I mean, what are the odds of that happening in opera?). I love the gender play in this opera, but ultimately I didn’t care – there is a higher truth in a soprano and a mezzo (ahh… and this mezzo!!!!) singing this duet:

Spür’ nur dich, spür’ nur dich allein und dass wir beieinander sein! Geht all’s sonst wie ein Traum dahin vor meinem Sinn!
Ist ein Traum, kann nicht wirklich sein, dass wir zwei beieinander sein, beieinand’ für alle Zeit und Ewigkeit!

It is about a feeling that goes beyond gender constructions right into the heart. Again, no words.

So, the evening was great, “great and strange”. Strange, because as soon as the curtain had fallen, people started running out of the theater. In general, the audience didn’t seem very emotional, but leaving before the curtain call? Yeah, there we felt special again – young, enchanted, trying to absorb the magic of every second in this theater with some of the world’s greatest artist on stage who deserved credit for their fantastic show.

Next post more on why people go to the opera – or don’t.As for absorbing the magic: Of course we had inspected the building for the stage entrance and concluded our La Scala experience with a most cordial meeting with a not tall but great person.Finally someone who understands the protocol of test shots! (Auto-focus was in celebrity shock)

Ah, thanks to modern technical appliances, this can be the work of a one-handed, confused photographer shivering in excitement.


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Thank you, EMSOC!!

I can imagine at some desks across Europe there are similar scenes today and tomorrow: EMSOC musicians returning home, switching on their computers, and looking for the others on Facebook, hoping to see each other again next year in Croatia.

The European Medical (and some other) Students’ Orchestra and Choir

We played our last concert in Giessen yesterday evening, last time Mahler, last time Brahms. I think there were some almost wet eyes when the people rose from their seats to give credit not only for this wonderful concert but also the magic that was behind it, the committment each and every one did. There was a bunch of wonderful people and in fact, it would have taken another week to get to know all of them.

Our beloved maestro and chorus master

But I am grateful for the week we could spend together! We laughed about German-English language confusion like “second violence, please play in bar 156….” or “so after sex (18h), get dressed and come to church”, we mocked the orchestra tuning with our throat-relaxing brrrrrr excercise, we found out that some clichés are just true (not everyone would point out that Norway can be seen as an extension of the Appalache mountains, from a plate tectonic point of view), we worked hard on pronouncing German correctly (Preisund must be right next to Strahlsund), we enjoyed (!) lunches in the canteeen….

Great thanks goes out to the organization team!

So, whenever you count to nine, turn on the Pavarotti mode, when you hear of violence, think of strings, when you climb stairs, remember the Cologne Cathedral, when you wonder about your next holidays, book a flight to Croatia for EMSOC 2012. Thanks for a touching week!

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Lord, how lovely are your apartments

very (!!) green EMSOC T-shirts, but it's great that they are everywhere!

Today was day six (rehearsal day five!) of EMSOC 2011. The European Medical Students Orchestra and Choir are in Giessen to perform Brahm’s A German Requiem and Mahler’s 10th Symphony. The newspaper reports about the project daily. They write about EMSOC visiting the brewery, the international dinner, the day trip to Cologne – and, by the way, that the concerts will be on Sunday evening (20h, Stadttheater Gießen!!!). Somehow the missed what we are all here for in the first place: doing music.

Yeah, everyone has too meet the famous places in our beautiful city.

The choir first came together on Saturday with many of us having never sung the piece before. And we didn’t have the best start – the répétiteur turned out not to be able to really play the score. But we could fix that pretty soon. Monday, we didn’t have the key to the hall, so our beloved chorus master Anna-Katharina Kalmbach (Stimmfach?^^) did her vitalizing warm up on the parking lot in the sun. Some people might have wondered… But apart from that everything went really fine. With lots of enthusiasm and great talent Anna-Katharina did a marvelous job preparing us for the huge orchestra conducted by UMD Stefan Ottersbach. I can still hardly believe how we (or at least me) came from zero to orchestra rehearsal in six days. Now there’s more sound in the hall than it can take, it’s getting loud, really loud, and then there is this feeling again – no words, just big eyes and an open mouth…

Since we are an international group, there were some efforts to translate the text of the requiem. The nicest one I found is: Lord, how lovely are your apartments. (Herr, wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen).

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Unlimited joy and Joyce!

Vibre, mon âme, chante et proclame, chante ta joie!

Yet again, I had the pleasure of spending an unforgettable opera evening. When we did Otello last season I wondered what would make someone go to see a concertante performance of opera. Well, there’s at least one answer I can give now: a most ravishing Joyce DiDonato!

Donna Leon presented Handel’s Ariodante in Baden-Baden on Friday, introducing to the performance of Joyce DiDonato singing the title role, accompanied by Alan Curtis’ Il Complesso Barocco. A slip of the tongue of Donna Leon became my program for the evening: she talked of “unlimited Joyce” instead of “unlimited joy”.
Interestingly, she compared the plot of Ariodante with that of Othello: the bad guy plays a trick on the good guy to make him believe his fiancé was unfaithful in order to gain the fiancé and the good guy’s all other comforts. Without examining the evidence, Othello decides to act: in an endless shouting of “Il fazzoletto!” he stabs the unfaithful. Ariodante doesn’t care about evidence either. But he chooses his own death, even though not successfully. Thus, the audience is sent home with a reconciling happy ending.

It takes Handel a lot of music to work out this plot, thereby giving a lot of room to discover the beauty of his music, if one had been skeptical about it before. And the musicians took their chance to enchant the audience.

I could not let my ears and eyes from the evening’s “hot mezzo in pants” Joyce DiDonato, whose portrayal of Ariodante went right into the heart. I wanted to stop the course of time when I saw this beyond-my-mind-voice unfolding its warm magic ten meters in front of me (and not in some technical appliance). And I now know: a concertante performance doesn’t have to be any less credible, after not only hearing Ariodante’s unlimited joy, his despair, and his relieve, but also seeing it in DiDonato face and body.

After the performance I followed DiDonato’s advice to catch her at the stage door for an autograph and I met a most cordial person who didn’t stop to share her gorgeous smile. In full excitement and gratitude I tried to control the shutter release of my camera and even though I didn’t use that feature I am sure: the automatic-release-when-detecting-a-smile-function of my camera was developed for persons like Joyce!

Look at the hair! 😀

Maybe it’s worth to re-explore the thought of Der Rosenkavalier in Milano in October… Donations very welcome! 😉


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Sondern der Gerechtigkeit wegen!

“Mein Gott, wenn nur alles in Ordnung kommt zur rechten Zeit!”

Alles kam in Ordnung und ins inszenierte Chaos. Premiere von Der Besuch der Alten Dame am Stadttheater. Und egal was irgendjemand anders sagt – aus dem kindlich-naiven Blickwinkel meiner ganz persönlichen Premiere gibt es für mich nur eine Wahrnehmung: es war grandios!

“Höchste Zeit, dass die Milliardärin kommt!”

Die Alte Dame besuchte nun endlich das erbärmlichste Nest auf der Strecke Karlsruhe – Stralsund. Na ja – auch wenn „Dorf-Güll“ hier gleich um die Ecke liegt, ist es doch nicht so erbärmlich bestellt wie um Güllen. Schließlich leistet man sich hier noch eine kleine, lebendige Welt in einem großen Haus, die mich in kindliches Staunen versetzte, je mehr ich in ihr entdecken durfte – beispielhaft sei hier mal die herzliche Garderobiere angeführt, deren Existenz mir eine freudige Überraschung war. Es muss ein großer Luxus sein, eine so gigantische Maschinerie zu betreiben, die etwas so Vergängliches und Lebensunnötiges, aber vielleicht gerade deshalb Phantastisches schafft.

Die Vergänglichkeit von Dienstleistungen ist eine mir durchaus vertraute, bereits vielfach wissenschaftlich diskutierte Thematik, aber sie reißt mich immer wieder zu einer gewissen Melancholie hin. Was bleibt, ist tief dankbares Lächeln an all diejenigen, die meinen Erlebnisraum in den vergangenen sechs Wochen mitgestalteten. In diesem Zusammenhang muss natürlich der Turner Erwähnung finden, mit dem es so wundervoll war zusammenzuarbeiten – ob die von mir gespielte Lady ihn jetzt gerade wegen seines knappen Turner-Outfits maßregelt, bei ihm Schutz sucht vor den Grausamkeiten, von denen die Alte Dame berichtet, oder im durch der Dame Schleier fallenden Licht heimlich in der Peterschen Scheune mit ihm kuschelt.

Die Milliarde ist versprochen – NIEEEEMAND will Sie TÖÖÖTEN!

Und was sage ich als Haushaltswissenschaftlerin dazu? Vor dem Hintergrund humanökologischer Hypothesen nur eines: das Konzept des Doppelcharakters der Bühne als Arbeits- und Erlebnisraum muss in Bezug auf die Dienstleistungsersteller und -empfänger differenziert betrachtet werden!

“Die Stiftung der Claire Zachanassian ist angenommen – einstimmig! Nicht der Geldes wegen!”

Glücklicherweise geht es mit der Vergänglichkeit dann doch nicht ganz so schnell – wir spielen „Kill Ill“ noch fünf Mal – noch fünf Mal in die graue Maske der Lady schlüpfen, unfertige Schilder hochhalten, Frau Zachanassians Geschichte erschrocken lauschen, auf den schleichend einfahrenden Zug des Wohlstands aufspringen, Alfred Ill vor selbigem Zurückhalten, Solo-Kuscheln, sich zur 50er-Jahre Schönheit verwandeln und als Reporterin die Manifestation scheinheiligen Hungers nach Gnade und Gerechtigkeit dokumentieren. Da muss ich mich nur vor einem fürchten: Tod aus Freude!


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