Sunday, December 14, 2008

Strauss' "Intermezzo": a look at Modern Marriage

Vienna recently presented a new production of Strauss' "Intermezzo." George Jahn of the Associated Press, wrote a review discussing the contemporary feeling to an opera written over a hundred years ago. "...for today's audiences, the story line is a treat, because it is a true slice of life from the composer's marriage to soprano Pauline de Ahna, a drama queen who — at least to outsiders — appeared to make Strauss' life a living hell. Contemporaries describe her as demanding, unfair, ill-mannered and materialistic, ready to scold and belittle her husband at a moment's notice. But for the easygoing Strauss, she appeared to be just right."

Manuel Brug from Welt Online felt the relatively unknown Swiss singer Carola Glazier was able to radiate the humour and nuances of the role of the wife, Christine, whose part needs to be "A bizarre woman with a very good soul, within reason she needs to be incomprehensible, moody, churlish and and nevertheless pleasant," as described by Hofmannsthal. Wilhelm Sinkovicz of Die Press.com wrote, "the composer was a theatrically practical man, enough to consolidate the miniature drama in music refined to be a genuine work of art." His comments about Ms Glazier, "Carola Glazier stands out in the monster role courageously while simultaneously differentiating between the irreproachably cleanly articulating first rage outbreak to the conciliatory final."

While the production gets luke warm reviews, it's nice to see an unknown receiving high praise for a role that sometimes is seen as shrewish and cardboard. Obviously in the right hands (voice) the wife is much more. Richard Strauss loved his wife and felt she had depth. The role of Christine is similar and gives us a good look at marriage, not just a hundred years ago, but of relationships today, with all the nuances and subtlties that make up the complex human interaction we call marriage.

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