Matthias Goerne outstanding as Mathis der Maler in Paris
The world famous baryton Mathias Goerne is outstanding as Mathis der Maler at Opera Bastille in Paris. He manage all theregister from the very lyric, to extremely powerful, When he is using a lot of power his voice is to having the dramatic sound needed. In his lyrical part his voice is extremely beautiful with a certain timbre on top of the sound, and it is in that part he is best. In addition he is a good actor, and he is forming this titelrole very well. The role as Mathis der Maler is about the painter Matthias Grünewald (1475-1528), who was one of the most significant painters of the Renaissance. He was the author of the extraordinary Issenheim Altarpiece, a “haunted” work that even today wields a truly intimidating force. At the same time as the Reformation he also lived through the German Peasants War, a violent uprising against the clergy and princes
. Just as the Nazis were coming to power.
The composer Paul Hindemith explored the destiny of an artist involved in the conflicts of his era, defending the poor and miserable, seeking justice and continuing his creative work in spite of everything.
He whom the Nazis referred to as a musical Bolshevik doubtlesss saw some of himsself in this situation.
The opera Mathis der Maler,whose theme is responsibilityand commitmentof the artist on troubled times, reflectsthe composers personality. Mathis has doubt his art and engages in the Peasants war. In this is the history that we are enjoying in this very spectacular production at Opera Bastille, with an intelligent and very well working staging by Olivier Py. A fantastic moving and some times extraordinary beautiful scenography, with big variations byPierre-André Weitz, who in addition is responsible for the costumes, which is bringing us to the Nazi periode from middle of 1930, but with elements bringing us back to the original old history of Matthias Grünewald. Where the history written by Paul Hindemith is telling that Mathis der Maler, who is the official painter of the Cardinal of Mainz, where he is working on painting a fresco of the stations of the cross in the Antonine monastery, when the seriously injured leader of the Peasants, Hans Schwalb, brilliantly performed and sung by the Swedish tenor Michael Weinius, bursts in along with his daughter Regina, sung by the young lyrical soprano Martina Welschenbach, in search for refugee.
He is not alone on the stage in Paul Hindemiths masterwork, which had its world premiere in Zürich May 28th 1938.
Together with Matthias Goerne we are enjoying Scott Macallister as a wonderful Cardinal Albrecht of Brandenburg, the Cardinal who has the difficult choise to give up the position as Cardinal and converting to Lutheran, which he does in the end. His voice is absolutely brilliant to this role. It would be a pleasure to hear him as Radames in Paris.
Michael Weinius is first class in the role as Hans Schwalb, the peasant leader. What a beautiful tenor
. I would like to hear him as Don JOse, Lohrengrin or in other main roles in Paris. Together with him Martina Welschenbach as his daughter Regina. She has the right lyric dramatic soprano voice for this role.
Melanie Dicker is outstanding, brilliant, dramatic soprano, with lyric timbre, and beautiful high tunes, powerful in all the register as Ursula, the daughter of Riedinger sung by Gregory Reinhardt. While Thorsten Grümbel is good as Lorenz von Pommersfelden, Antoine Garcin as Truchsen von Waldberg, Eric Huchet as Sylvester von Schaumberg and Nadine Weissman as the Countes of Helfenstein. I too enjoyed the Angel with the red wings alllways following up.
The history is about the above mentioned Mathis (Matthias Goerne) -Matthias Grünevald- who is the iofficial painter of the Cardinal of Mainz, – Albrecht von Brandenburg sung by Scott Macallister, cardinal and archbishop of Mainz, where Mathis is painting a fresco of the stations of the cross in the Antoine Monastery, as we see with models and statists. When the seriously injured peasant leader Hans Schwalb (Michael Weinius) burst in along with his daughter Regina (Martina Welschenbach), in search of refuge in the Monastery.
Moved by their plight, Mathias offers a ribbon to Regina and gives Schwalb a horse so that they may escape from their pursuers.
When Sylvester von Schaumberg (Eric Huchet) arrives with a troop of soldiers, in this version Nazi, the painter admits having helped teh fugitives. The officer insists tha Mathis be held accountable for his act.
In the second scene. Catholics (in black), Lutherans (in white) and students are discussing the political situation in the grand hall of Martinsburg. Albrecht von Brandenburg returns from his travels bringing with him a relic of Saint Martin. He talks with Riedinger (Gregory Reinhart), a rich burgher of Mainz, Wolfgang Capito (Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke), the cardinals advisor, Riedingers beautiful daughter Ursula (Melanie Diener) and Lorenz von Pommersfelden (Thorstein Grümbel), the dean of the catedrals chapter. The latter insists that all protestant writings be burnt.
In this is the interesting bakcgroun for this beautiful and demanding tragedie, as I felt was in the highets possible quality level, and to me was telling even more than any of the operas in the Ring of Niebelungen by Richard Wagner
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Mathis der Maler was first performed May 28th 1938 in Zürich. And it is now for the first time a new addition to the Paris Opera´s repertoire. As one of the most importent operatic works in the 20th century. Before completing of the opera, Hindemith assembled in to a symphony three instrumental fragments, Angelic concert, Entombment and The Temptation of Saint Anthony. Intented to make up the preludes from the work.
After that Wilhelm Furtwängler had been conducting the first performance in Berlin, with the Berliner Philharmonic 1934, March 12th. Hindemiths enemies doubled their efforts in attempt to have Hindemiths music banned, despite unanimous praise from the press. In the end , it was beyond the fromtiers of the Reich, in Zurich,that Mathis der Maler saw its premiere. In 1938, the year of the it was performed, Hindemith, no doubt was at the height of his compositional genius, went into exil in Switzerland before leaving for the United States.
Christoph Eschenbach is the conductor of this performance, and he has been doing a fantastic job to inspire and to get the orchestra and choir (leaded by Patrick Marie Aubert) to sound so wonderful.
I do sincerelly hope that this extraordinary work, Mathis der Maler by Paul Hidnemith will be at the repertoire of the Opera de Paris for many years. In this remarkable production by Olivier Py.