Chor und Kinderchor der Oper Frankfurt;
Libretto by Alban Berg after the Play by Georg Büchner Berg was conscripted during the 1914-18 war and acquired from his experiences the compassion and loathing to write his first, terrifyingly great opera, about a soldier tormented and mocked by his superiors until he loses his reason, cutting the throat of his mistress, and drowning himself. A devious world destroys Wozzeck’s sense of identity and turns him into a murderer. This brutalisation is made palpable in Peter Mussbach’s highly-stylised production which, in its expressionistic artificiality, heightens the emotional intensity of this searing work. In his hands Wozzeck becomes an agonising lament over lost innocence. Mussbach is a master of visual and dramatic effect and the impact of his staging is enhanced by the framing opportunities afforded by video recording under studio conditions. Surfaces are steeply raked and blaze in primary colours; perspectives are flattened and distorted; space is confined; decoration has been stripped away; character is manifested through costumes, masks, make-up, movement; the particular stands for the collective. Dale Duesing, as Wozzeck, is a charismatic central figure, an agile performer, restless and tormented. The role of Marie is taken by Kristine Ciesinski, a consummate singer and actress of Berg’s work. Mussbach’s Hauptmann is reminiscent of Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi, and his Doctor brings to mind a frock-coated Frankenstein. These monsters of inhumanity are incisively portrayed by Dieter Bundschuh and Frode Olsen. A powerful tenor, Ronald Hamilton sings the role of the grotesquely overblown Drum Major. Conductor Sylvain Cambreling’s reading of the score is characterised by its structural clarity.
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