...This entertaining image theatre comprising song and dance is not only full of humorous dialogue, but it also directs a tongue-in-cheek and self-mocking look at the world we live in today. It is hardly by chance that at the end of the piece, when the lights go down, the last thing we hear is the sound of laughter. "Did you see the Pope?" is one of the first questions posed by a critically inquiring young man to his priestly interlocutor as part of their ongoing repartee, which is interspersed in the action like so many sketches. Given the upcoming papal visit, it's more a question of whether the pope saw you. Maybe the Pope himself could raise a smile at that.
Two grand pianos and a harmonium, mounted on wheels and very much a part of the action, take charge of the musical part. A total of 16 fabulous singer-dancer-performers, each with bags of talent, take charge of the rest. And conductor Nicholas Jenkins is also in the thick of it. Oliver Proske has created a swinging arch which reaches across the stage and can be understood as a stylishly designed portal to heaven. When the gates behind it open, the terrestrial endeavours below are flooded with white light and a cloudy mist, which takes us beyond just hearing Rossini's music, and allows us to visually perceive its grandeur and magic. Nicola Hümpel's direction allows the music to become a part of the dancers and singers in a variety of ways. During the Gloria, for instance, Laura Mitchell and Ulrike Mayer not only provide convincing proof of the quality of their voices: the intensity of one's soprano and the lushness of the other's mezzo-soprano, but on top of that they let us into a frivolous competition occurring between two attractive divas. Again and again individuals distinguish themselves, until all ultimately come together again to form a group picture.
Above all else, Rossini's music delivers the space that the troupe requires for its statement of faith in the power of music and dance. They felt so at ease in it that they managed to infect the audience in the not quite sold out but nonetheless well attended Erfurt Opera...
© 2011 Nico and the Navigators