There’s a certain logic in Christof Loy following up his 2019 production of Korngold’s Das Wunder der Heliane at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with Riccardo Zandonai’s 1914 piece Francesca da Rimini. Both pieces deal with overt, somewhat perverted, sexuality as the means of a woman achieving some sort of agency and both have lush, hyper-romantic scores. Loy claims his next project will be Shreker’s Der Schatzgräber for the same house so there’s apparently more to come.
The video recording, made at the Deutsche Oper in 2018, of Korngold’s rarely seen Das Wunder der Heliane is yet another lesson in holding off on making judgements on an opera or production until one has seen the whole thing. I still don’t think it’s a lost masterpiece but I’m feeling a lot less derisive than I was at the end of Act I.
At first blush Axel Köhler’s 2015 production of Weber’s Der Freischütz for Dresden’s Semperoper seems entirely traditional but as it unfolds it reveals some real depth that pretty much restores the sense of horror that the original audience felt. It’s set in an indeterminate time period in the aftermath of war. The first act looks quite conventional but there’s a very tense air to it with both sexuality and violence just below, and occasionally above, the surface. The atmosphere is greatly enhanced by our first look at Georg Zeppenfeld who is a very fine and rather plastic Kaspar. There are echoes here of his König Heinrich in Bayreuth.