Out West Arts: Performance at the end of the world

Opera, music, theater, and art in Los Angeles and beyond

High and Mighty

August 08, 2010

Anja Harteros and Wolfram Rieger
Photo: Wolfgang Lienbacher/Salzburg Festival 2010

I started my week in Salzburg on a high note. Or perhaps it would be better to say I started them on Anja Harteros’ high notes. On Saturday night, she gave a recital at the Haus für Mozart that was simply incredible. It was as if I’d never actually heard a Lied recital before now. What’s more, there wasn’t an ounce of clever programming gimmicks to give the show unnecessary structure. There was no set of songs that required research or extended explanation. No unifying non-musical theme was used to pull a group of disparate works together. Instead it was simply Lied: Brahms, Schubert, Wolf and Strauss. Better yet, her accompanist Wolfram Rieger provided really eloquent playing in conjunction with Harteros’ bright and clear vocals.

There were so many strong points in the recital, it’s hard to pick only a few to mention. The evening started with some of Schubert’s moment of religious fervor, “Die Allmacht” and “Die junge Nonne.” And while the sacred may not have seemed like a natural place to start a vocal recital in Salzburg, Harteros provided a searing connection to Schubert’s own humanistic version of Christianity. As the show continued, all of the usual German romantic themes of love and nature were there, but sung like this, they seem fresh and new. I’ve always been particularly fond of Strauss as well and his “Meinem Kinde,” based on a poem by Gustav Falke was another of the evening’s highlights. Maternal love may be another of those hackneyed themes, but this was immensely touching. It’s too bad I won’t get to see Harteros in any staged operas at this year’s festival, but take heart Southern California, she's scheduled to perform the Marschallin in San Diego Opera’s production of Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier next April.



Great singer. I'm envious.
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