Weikersheim Favorites

  • Carmen
    Carmen
    by Nemorino
  • View of Weikersheim Castle
    View of Weikersheim Castle
    by Nemorino
  • 2. Michael Chacewicz as Herr Fluth
    2. Michael Chacewicz as Herr Fluth
    by Nemorino

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    Carmen in Weikersheim 2003

    by Nemorino Updated Mar 9, 2013

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    Weikersheim Castle at night
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    Favorite thing: In the summer of 2003 they did a production of Carmen, by Georges Bizet (1838-1875), which I saw on two consecutive evenings with different casts.

    The second evening went really well, but the first was a bit chaotic because it rained shortly before the opera was due to start, so they had to place the orchestra inside the palace (not a good solution) and make numerous last minute changes in the staging. I am slightly acquainted with one of the young staging assistants, and was highly impressed with how she managed all this. She later became a full-time staging assistant at the Frankfurt Opera, so someone else besides me must have noticed that she is really good at it.

    The singers were all new to me. One of them, Sonja Mühleck, who sang the role of Micaela on one of the evenings in Weikersheim, has since made some good progress on her career. I saw her again in 2004 at the Opera Academy in Bad Orb, where she sang the female lead in the opera Tiefland, by Eugen D’Albert. And she later spent several years as an ensemble member at the Frankfurt Opera in Frankfurt am Main.

    The orchestra in 2003 was the German Bundesjugendorchester (BJO), i.e. the National Youth Orchestra of Germany.

    The chorus was the academic choir Ivan Goran Kovacic from Zagreb, Croatia.

    Second photo: Program of Carmen by Georges Bizet, Weikersheim 2003.

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    La Traviata in Weikersheim 2005

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 18, 2013

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    1. La Traviata in Weikersheim 2005
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    Favorite thing: Jeunesses Musicales presented the opera La Traviata by Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901) in a new open-air production in the courtyard of Weikersheim Castle on nine evenings in July 2005.

    The conductors were again Yakov Kreizberg (1959-2011) and Amy Andersson. The stage director was Manfred Weiß of the Young Opera Stuttgart. The orchestra this time was the National Youth Orchestra of Spain, and the chorus was the State Youth Chorus of Northrhine-Westfalia, Germany.

    An unusual aspect of this production (at least at the performance I saw on Tuesday, July 26, 2005) was that all three of the leading roles were sung by Koreans -- one of whom acquitted herself quite well, namely Ga-Seul Son as Violetta.

    The stage was made of five large containers, of the type used on ocean-going container ships. This made for some nice visual effects and rapid changes of scene, but I think the young singers would have sounded better if they hadn't been singing from inside those metal boxes.

    In case you don't know what La Traviata is about, their poster will give you a good idea. Just click on the first photo to enlarge.

    Second photo: Audience and stage 2005.

    Third photo: During the intermission 2005.

    Fourth photo: The singers taking their bows in one of those metal containers.

    http://www.jeunessesmusicales.de/

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    La Cenerentola in Weikersheim 2007

    by Nemorino Updated Aug 22, 2009

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    Courtyard of Weikersheim Castle

    Favorite thing: Their opera for 2007 was La Cenerentola (a.k.a. Cinderella) by Gioachino Rossini (1792 - 1868). The conductor was Alessandro de Marchi, and the stage director was Dominik Wilgenbus. The orchestra, as in 2003, was the German Federal Youth Orchestra (Bundesjugendorchester).

    Unfortunately I wasn't able to go to Weikersheim in 2007, so I didn't see their Cenerentola. (For one thing I didn't know anyone who was in it.)

    http://www.oper-weikersheim.de/

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    The Merry Wives of Windsor in Weikersheim 2009

    by Nemorino Updated Aug 22, 2009

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    1. Camille Butcher as Anna Reich
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    Favorite thing:

    Photos:
    1. Camille Butcher as Anna Reich
    2. Michael Chacewicz as Herr Fluth
    3. Elvira Hasanagic as Frau Fluth (with Donij van Doorn and Michael Chacewicz)
    4. Sebastian Pilgrim as Falstaff
    5. Merry Wives poster on the Marktplatz in Weikersheim

    I saw The Merry Wives of Windsor on three consecutive evenings with somewhat different casts -- they had three singers each for the major roles, and two for the somewhat more minor roles.

    For those who know Verdi's Falstaff or Shakespeare's original Merry Wives play, I should point out that Nicolai's Anna Reich is the same as Shakespeare's Anne Page and Verdi's Nannetta, the young girl who is in love with Fenton (same name in all three versions).

    In Nicolai's version Anna Reich is the daughter of Herr & Frau Reich (= Mr and Mrs Page) instead of Herr & Frau Fluth, who correspond roughly to Mr and Mrs Ford in the Shakespeare and Verdi versions.

    But Falstaff is Falstaff in all three -- a fat middle-aged knight who still fancies himself an irresistible lover and sends identical love letters to Frau Fluth (=Alice Ford) and Frau Reich (=Meg Page), who with the help of their friends succeed in teaching him a lesson by the end of the play or opera.

    The young singers in Weikersheim obviously had a good time with Nicolai's opera, and I enjoyed seeing it three times -- but ideally you should see Nicolai's version first, before you know Verdi's. Otherwise you'll be disappointed at the beginning of the second act when Falstaff climbs dripping wet out of the sewer and merely delivers a spoken monologue instead of singing the brilliant music that Verdi later wrote for this scene.

    And the same happens at the end of the third act, when Falstaff has been thoroughly humiliated but still maintains his dignity and earns the grudging respect of the townspeople. Nicolai again lapses into spoken monologue at this point, unlike Verdi, who ends with a fugue.

    The stage director this year was Jakob Peters-Messer, and the orchestra was -- surprisingly enough -- the RIAS Youth Orchestra under the direction of Peter Kuhn. This was surprising because RIAS was a radio station in Berlin called "Radio in the American Sector" -- and since there is no longer any American sector in Berlin I assumed there was no longer any RIAS. It turns out that the radio station RIAS was in fact phased out in 1994, but its Youth Orchestra still exists and includes young musicians from about twenty nations.

    GPS 49°28'50.71" North; 9°53'44.96" East

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    Così fan tutte in Weikersheim 2011

    by Nemorino Written Aug 22, 2009

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    View of Weikersheim Castle

    Favorite thing: Since they only do operas in the odd-numbered summers, there won't be one in 2010, but they have already announced that in the summer of 2011 the opera production in the courtyard of Weikersheim castle will be Così fan tutte by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791).

    As I mentioned in my 2008 Bad Orb tip, the title Così fan tutte means roughly "That's what they (feminine) all do."

    One of the characters, the "old philosopher" Don Alfonso, sets out to prove that all women will be unfaithful to their husbands or fiancés if given half a chance. Whether or not he has proved this at the end is a matter of debate -- and has been since 1790, which is when Mozart composed this brilliant opera to a text by Lorenzo da Ponte.

    On the one hand it is true that the two young women, Fiordiligi and Dorabella, have each been seduced by the other's boyfriend -- but this took such a high degree of persuasion that it doesn't necessarily prove anything.

    It will be interesting to see how this is staged in Weikersheim in 2011 -- and which young singers they will find to sing the demanding role of Fiordiligi, for instance.

    The address for further information is:

    Jeunesses Musicales Deutschland
    Internationale Kurse Schloss Weikersheim e.V.
    Marktplatz 12
    D - 97990 Weikersheim

    Telephone +49 79 34 - 99 36 16

    Fax +49 - 79 34 - 99 36 40

    http://www.oper-weikersheim.de/

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