There are many artistic expressions that have tried to reflect one of the main features of the twentieth century in its most negative, the horror, aberration and evil man is capable of generating almost infinitely. And there have been many artists, tragically influenced by having lived firsthand the cruelty of World War II. One of them was the German composer Bernd Alois Zimmermann is, definitely, one that has best reflected the vivid violence.
Zimmermann received direct influences of the musical vanguard that was haunting Europe. Entre ellos Schoenberg, Bartok, Webern, Stravinski o Kagel. Die Soldaten has as great inspirational source Alban Berg's Wozzeck. Both start from the same literary origin, the play by Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz, poet and writer of the eighteenth century and one of the greatest exponents of Sturm und Drang movement. Lenz committed suicide with just 23 years after a troubled and full life imbalances. Zimmermann also ended up committing suicide, just five years after the premiere of Die Soldaten.
The similarities are evident Wozzeck, not only in the origin, Also in the musical structure and, as base, dodecaphonism. Die Soldaten is dotted with lyricism and jazzy moments. This mixture of styles Zimmermann called “pluralistic approach”, which it is nothing but a collage made up of different musical concepts and structures.
Upon entering the room we expected the projection of a giant portrait child. It is the innocence of the protagonist, Marie, before falling prey to the tragedy and the moral degradation of other characters. The girl will reappear at the end of the work, dead after a heartbreaking end that shows the annihilation of innocence in a sleazy and destructive world.
Behind the curtain a huge ready industrial architecture appears in several planes in which are housed the 120 Teachers Orchestra. All in uniform and militarized for the occasion. 18 drum sets and 25 timpani fall within this orchestral mechano thunder, which it occupies almost all of the stage dramatically, leaving little space for the singers in the place normally occupied by the moat. This provision so far from some instruments has led to its amplification with mixed results, because it ends up not listening, for example, the harp.
On the other hand, the proximity of the singers to the public creates an effect close-up that enhances the vocal result and, especially, theatricality. The fact that the singers are outside the visually director requires only have a repeater manager to input voices. A complicated task that Vladimir Junyent performs with reliability and precision.
It is not easy to create a work that produces stupor, restlessness, and unrest and tear, both, the feeling of having witnessed a colossal work. The unique and compelling description of human gap through a score and a booklet that has passed, to be an impossible work, to be one of the references of twentieth century music. All thanks to the joint effort and herculean all who participate.
The scenery of Bieito do not need in this production of the excesses that both like and characterize this controversial director, whether or not justified. This time, excessiveness of the work exceeds the set designer, that's saying. But any more hype would have collapsed scenery overload.
It has placed the orchestra on stage to give it the prominence it has, all. A music that literally crushes the characters by dragging them to exhaustion, using the instruments almost as ammunition in the middle of this musical and scenographic violence.
Pablo Heras-Casado gets a performance of extraordinary orchestra. The arrangement of the musicians makes his very complex work. Zimmermann included in this work all unimaginable difficulties taking it to the limit. The Heras-Casado himself warned: "Die Soldaten is the most extreme challenge that any musician can face". Listen this score is not easy, but getting materialize reading with a huge orchestra, He is fronting the work for the first time in the scenic provision has been raised, It is almost miraculous.
As for the vocal score, Die Soldaten is an extraordinary demand for its extreme tessitura. Susanne Elmark plays Marie. A complex and diabolical character in his vocal and interpretative difficulty. Starts being naive and a bit naughty to transform, as they move tragedies, a woman destroyed after being brutally raped and turned into prostitute of the soldiery. Elmark perfectly reflects the emotional and psychological depths of Marie. vocally impossible, Danish soprano gives everything on stage.
Leigh Melrose's Stolzius is the perfect replica for Marie. We could see recently in Britten's Gloriana and both shows his great vocal and dramatic ability.
Uwe Sticker brings to life a highly complex Desportes vocals, full of treble, Rushing to safely Sticker. He had a major role in this impossible score.
Julia Riley as Charlotte, Iris Vermillion as Mother of Stolzius and Noëmi Nadelmann as Countess de la Roche, They showed his good acting skills, in this work that requires best actors singers.
The surprise of the evening was the great Hanna Schwarz. This veteran interpreter, their 76 years, He filled the stage with his deep bass in an unforgettable performance. His characterization of the elderly mother of Wesener, connected to their serum to demonstrate the weakness of character, filled with concern the whole plot.
Stellar, once again, the choir Intermezzo, choir for the Teatro Real, under the direction of Andrés Máspero.
The musical language of this work is not for everyone, bold and adventurous ears are required, but these qualities can also be trained. That is why Die Soldaten is a necessary work, almost mandatory, and not well understood that there are still large audience that takes advantage of breaks to flee when they represent some of these contemporary operas. Patience has its rewards, and this premiere at the Royal Theater, it has been expected, but it's very worthwhile.