Archive for the ‘Hansel und Gretel’ Category

Angelika Kirschlager: three world-ranking mezzos #1

December 15, 2008
With a rare chance to compare three world-ranking mezzos in London in the space of five days, I saw the first, Angelika Kirschlager, in Hansel und Gretel at Covent Garden last Friday.

She – and the opera – were magnificent. In her usual “trouser role”, this time playing a youthful country boy, Kirschlager impressed all night long. Her singing was supple yet powerful, her comic and dramatic acting delightful.

Ms Kirschlager wasn’t the only reason for my visit, though – locally revered baritone Thomas Allen was predictably luminous as the confused Father and Diana Damrau is a compelling soprano whose acting eventually matched Kirschlager’s. The house band under Colin Davis was consistently reliable, occasionally moving.

My pre-show doubts about a fairy tale subject written by a one-hit wonder (Humperdinck) were entirely misplaced. This is an engaging version, directed by the Leiser/Caurier duo who’ve been responsible for some outstanding Covent Garden shows in recent years.

You can catch it on BBC Radio 3 tomorrow, Tuesday 16 December, at 1930.

Gerry Smith