"Hannover listens to Tosca in Maschpark"
20 July 2014
The expectations had been high: Singing on world class level, an open air spectacle and a terrifically illuminated town hall. Those were the promises of NDR TV boss Marlis Fertmann for Tosca in Maschpark on Saturday. The performance with NDR Radiophilharmonie under its outgoing chief conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen lived up to these promises.
On that place behind the Neues Rathaus (New Town Hall) - until now undiscovered as an opera stage - the 1500 ticket owners and many picnicking onlookers after a hot day and during a magnificently mild summer night under a jet black sky were rewarded with great music, great emotions and a wonderful light show around the town hall. Star singers like the Argentinean tenor José Cura (Cavaradossi), the German baritone Albert Dohmen (Scarpia), and the outstanding American soprano Catherine Naglestad impressed with a "Tosca" which was filled with importance, intensity, knowledge about dramatic passion and truthfulness. [...] Applause and standing ovations in the end.
"Tosca" - Die Besetzung
Eivind Gullberg Jensen Dirigent
Catherine Naglestad - Floria Tosca
José Cura - Mario Cavaradossi
Albert Dohmen - Baron Scarpia
Yngve Soeberg - Cesare Angelotti
Simon Bode - Spoletta
Hyung-Woo - Lee Sciarrone
Philip Björkqvist - Carceriere
Martin-Jan Nijhof - Sagrestano
Katharina Held Stimme des Hirtenmädchens
Powerful voices, great spectacle
22 July 2014
In front of the orchestra, there was still one meter of free space left. On this narrow strip, the development of a breathtaking opera took place. The concert-type performance of Giacomo Puccini's "Tosca" in Luebeck's Musik- und Kongresshalle (music and congress hall) was thrilling and vocally on the highest level. At the end of the evening, the audience was rejoicing at an opera without stage direction and costumes, made alive with only a few gestures, with looks, with a smile, a sigh, a paper tissue or with a step into the orchestra zone in order to gain some additional space.
The three main characters were casted with stars: The soprano Catherine Naglestad (Tosca), the tenor José Cura (Cavaradossi) and the baritone Albert Dohmen (Scarpia) have got voices that would also adorn the Met or the Scala. (remark Romana: Well, they actually have done and hopefully continue to do so).
Jose Cura's tenor possesses mellowness, warmth and volume which are unmatched. In the very beginning, he struggled with the dry air due to the air conditioning and had to clear his throat several times. His acting skills also put the stamp on the evening. The character of Cavaradossi came alive. Catherine Naglestad was his fully equal partner. Her soprano has got incredible power in the upper register, her soft passages were like a bird's.
The choir (choir conductor: Gudrun Schröfel) and the orchestra also delivered a great performance. Under the baton of Eivind Gullberg Jensen, the NDR-Radiophilharmonie played with immense power from the first to the last note. The conductor acted very sensitively towards the soloists, his eyes and ears were constantly with them. At the end of the opera he looked as if he had just taken a shower, so much energy did he spend on the oeuvre. The Mädchenchor (girls' choir) Hannover and the Johannes-Brahms-Chor Hannover sang clearly and precisely.
Concert-Type "Tosca" in the Muk Outshines Every Conventional Stage Production
Unser Luebeck - Kulturmagazin
21 July 2014
On Sunday, 20 July, Puccini's "Tosca" with a world class cast. Attentive TV watchers had already witnessed the production on N3 TV channel one day before. In the Hannover open air performance a church pew was available as a requisite for the artists, Lübeck had to rely completely on acting persuasiveness. And it worked well.
The wonderful Catherine Naglestad in the title role made dreams of masterful singing come true. With a fantastic intonation and thus a skillful development of the notes - all together with credible gestures - she offered an extraordinary singing experience. And then José Cura as Cavaradossi. Well-known for his unconventional way of performing. But this alone doesn't make you win big points in today's opera business. His voice owns an overwhelming radiant power, his vocal mellowness made not only the ladies' hearts beat faster. In the beginning, you might have feared for his voice - he was flailing a handkerchief and pointed at his throat - but the fearful feeling faded away with each note he sang. You want to hear him again!
The role of Scarpia had been entrusted to Albert Dohmen. The bass-baritone has been successfully singing under the baton of all great conductors and integrated himself perfectly into the remarkable crew. The choirs from Hannover directed by Gudrun Schröfel fitted very well into this high class performance. But all this wouldn't have been possible without conductor Eivind Gullberg Jensen. He conducted the orchestra full of energy and empathy. The soloists had the most sensitive conductor who often "went down to his knees" for them. To sum it up, a memorable experience of opera culture.
Great Singers, New location
21 July 2014
A "Tosca" for everybody: The NDR opera gala behind the town hall of Hannover delights the masses. Is it a model for the future?
[...] Spontaneous applause after the opera's famous arias - Tosca's "Vissi d'arte" and Cavaradossi's "E lucevan le stelle" - not only from the 1500 paying visitors but is also wafting from the thousands of listeners in nearby Maschpark. That is open-air opera which could hardly be more impressive and touching. In advance there had been talks about a huge event not having been witnessed for a long time in Hannover, about a "spectacle", even about the "musical event of the year in northern Germany". But even the boldest of optimists didn't probably expect that indeed everything turned out to be perfect - starting with the weather, a wonderfully mild summer night through the outstanding qualities of the star guests like José Cura and Catherine Naglestad, through the excellently disposed choirs under Gudrun Schröfel up to the well-balanced sound of the acoustically amplified music. On that place behind the town hall - so far undiscovered as an opera stage, you are treated this evening with great music, great emotions and a wonderful light show: A "Tosca" which is, due to its framework conditions, indeed a spectacular event, opening itself to an audience unfamiliar with classical music and at the same time - note for note, line for line - is filled with dramatic truthfulness and artistic intensity. [...]
The farewell of Eivind Gullberg Jensen from Hannover being a huge success is also due to the fact that his ensemble of singers are not only convincing with their singing skills but also with their acting skills. Even in moments where you can see a cameraman moving back and forth on the stage with his heavy equipment just directly in front of Tosca and Cavaradossi while the two of them are swearing each other eternal love, down in the audience you can still feel intimacy, intensity. Catherine Naglestad impresses with her acting which - like her wonderfully streaming soprano - seems to be developing from deep inside of her. Everything is there, in a seemingly natural, moving way: her jealousy towards Cavaradossi, her hysterical anguish during the torture scene, the violence with which she stabs Scarpia. José Cura is a heldentenor who renounces at using the stereotypical gestures of opera business, who notwithstanding all melodrama also proves to be very strong in soft, lyrical moments.[...]
In the end standing ovations and the open question: Will there be a second open-air opera behind the town hall? The organizers, Matthias Ilkenhans, ochestra manager of NDR Radiophilharmonie, Wolfgang Besemer from Hannover Concerts or the City of Hannover are for sure enthusiastic about "Tosca" - and send out cautious signals towards the future. Wolfgang Besemer says he is hoping that such event can be realized again.