Vera Nemirova, em Salzburgo, propõe uma Lulu (Berg) mais crua do que é hábito (?!). Contudo, a sua encenação parece conter tiradas muito originais e inventivas.
Pela parte que me toca, confesso que o maior interesse desta nova produção radica na prestação de Petibon, que ocupa o lugar de Schäfer como protagonista desta ópera.
Desde a estreia de Patrícia Petibon no papel titular – em Genéve, na temporada passada (aqui e aqui) – que se percebeu tratar-se d’A LULU DA DÉCADA!
Veremos. Por ora, o momento é de festa!
«SALZBURG, Austria — From the first minutes of the Salzburg Festival’s new production of Berg’s “Lulu,” which opened here on Sunday night at the Felsenreitschule, it was clear that musical matters were in very capable hands. The German conductor Marc Albrecht drew a consistently plush, urgent and taut performance from the Vienna Philharmonic.
In the prologue, as the baritone Thomas Johannes Mayer snarled and bellowed the words of the Animal Tamer, inviting the audience to witness a menagerie in which the principal attraction was the snake representing “woman’s original form and nature,” the orchestra reveled in Berg’s insinuating music for the bleakly comic scene: all abrupt phrases, jagged lines and bursts of astringent chords.
But Berg’s 12-tone score is also rich with wistful allusions to late-Romantic lyricism. Under Mr. Albrecht, the chief conductor-designate of both the Netherlands Opera and the Netherlands Philharmonic Orchestra, the Vienna musicians played Berg’s score as if it were a natural extension of Wagner, late Brahms and early Strauss — a completely valid approach. The warmth and body of the Vienna Philharmonic’s strings proved ideal for Berg’s unfinished final work (played here in the now standard three-act version, with the final act orchestrated by the composer Friedrich Cerha).
Still, the talk of any new production at the Salzburg Festival inevitably focuses on the staging. Well before opening night, predictions circulated in the opera world and on opera chat lines that this “Lulu,” by the Bulgarian director Vera Nemirova, was going to be another Eurotrash outrage.
Yet Ms. Nemirova’s daring and engrossing production earned her, and the production team, a sustained ovation. She has clearly worked closely with the German artist Daniel Richter, who designed the sets and painted some stunning flats. In Act I the backdrop is a huge blowup of a surreal portrait of the voluptuous Lulu, dressed only in underclothes and wearing incongruous angel wings, that the Painter is working on as the lights go up. And in Act II, when a cholera epidemic has broken out, the backdrop is a panorama of sickly, ghostly faces in garish reds and yellows that change color with the stage lighting.
That Ms. Nemirova is more than a purveyor of directorial high concept comes through in the minutely detailed characterizations she draws from her cast. The French soprano Patricia Petibon is a blithely amoral Lulu. When we meet her, she is married to Dr. Goll, a browbeaten professor of medicine.
As Lulu, she sometimes sang with a hard-edged sound and wavering high notes. Yet those qualities fit the character of this cagey seductress, who gets ahead by using the only power she has: her allure over men. Slender and sensual, she was riveting in every scene. And she nailed the skittish passagework of this high-lying role while summoning earthy rawness when Lulu was up against it and had to take charge, however ruthlessly.
The Painter was the tenor Pavol Breslik, and it was fascinating to see this character, usually an oily opportunist, presented as a handsome, cocky young artist. And as Dr. Schön, the editor of a newspaper, a controlling man who has supported, groomed and demanded sexual favors of Lulu for years, the baritone Michael Volle towered over Ms. Petibon and sang the role with menacing power.
All the characters were similarly fleshed out. Though the tenor Thomas Piffka has a big, robust voice, he was movingly befuddled as Alwa, Dr. Schön’s lost-soul son, hopelessly smitten with Lulu. The mezzo-soprano Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as the lesbian Countess Geschwitz, who adores Lulu, brought both pitiable longing and fragile dignity to her portrayal. And the bass-baritone Franz Grundheber as the old, shriveled Schigolch, who may be Lulu’s no-good father (or a former lover or an abusive stepfather; it is not clear), found endless ways to convey the character’s creepiness.
Ms. Nemirova’s staging was sometimes heavy-handed in its symbolism. Did we need to see seven agonized, blood-stained, shirtless men of various ages and body shapes crawling on the floor and clinging to Lulu to get that she is irresistibly sexual? On the other hand, the choreographed writhing was quite a sight.
For nearly the entire first scene of the final act, which takes place at a Paris soiree, Ms. Nemirova had the cast sing out in the auditorium, walking up and down the aisles with the house lights on. The singers, in over-the-top evening wear (thanks to Klaus Noack’s inventive costumes), passed out drinks and scattered gambling money (bills playfully marked 500 eros) to delighted audience members. The wily Marquis (the tenor Andreas Conrad) walked across the auditorium on a narrow wooden rail that divided two sections of seats.
This theatrical coup proved an effective setup for the harrowing final scene, in which Lulu, reduced to prostitution in London, is murdered by a pickup who turns out to be Jack the Ripper. I have never seen the climax staged with such matter-of-fact degradation.»