6 May 2012 | TheLittleSongbird
Definitely worth watching
Fierrabras as an overall opera is not a masterpiece. It has a plot line that is flimsy and very lacking in drama and I am confused as to why the opera is named Fierrabras when the character is only present for half of the first act and some of the Act 3 ensembles(if anything Roland is much more prominent as a character). However, the music is glorious, anybody who loves Schubert's Leider will love the music here, it has a very similar feel to it.
And this is a production definitely worth watching. The minimalist setting worked very well, as did the always present giant chair and piano and the interesting idea of Schubert reflecting the characters' emotions and such even without speaking/singing much. The costumes are sumptuous, and the picture and sound quality are great.
On a musical level, it is faultless really, with the orchestral playing as lush and lyrical as you would expect, proving sensitive accompaniment also when needed, and ever-involved conducting from Franz Welser-Most.
The performances are wonderful, with Wolfgang Beuschel excellent as Schubert, always making good use of the stage and those around him even when not speaking. Jonas Kaufmann is an ample Fierrabras, Michael Volle heroic as Roland and Christoph Stehl a fantastic Eginhard. Laszlo Polgar is a commanding and vocally resonant King, and Gunther Groissbock a strong Boland. Julianne Banse is a charming presence as Emma if slightly wobbly at times vocally, while Twyla Robinson sings wonderfully but doesn't seem entirely engaged with her role.
All in all, the opera is never going to be one of my favourites but the music is great and the production is very good overall. 8/10 Bethany Cox