Love born in the bamboo forest
Today, I should wake up in Berlin and early in the morning catch the bus to Magdeburg, which in one translation means “Virgin city” on the Elbe River. Then, to speak with Dr. Christine Villinger, a spokeswoman for the Magdeburg Theater, and to attend the after-matinee performance (4 pm) of Puccini’s “Turandot”.
The reason for trip was the fact that this theater introduce a very unusual and unique production. That also include young Serbian baritone Marko Pantelić, who became a member of the Magdeburg Theater this season and plays the role of Minister Ping in this Opera.
Unfortunately, because of well-known reason, this show has been canceled and will have to wait for the next 2020/21 Season.
I asked Marko to give us his impression of participating in this production. With that and fabulous photographs made by Andreas Lander, we present to you the Magdeburg “Turandot”!
Giacomo Puccini’s Opera “Turandot” is an absolute hit of the season of the Theater in Magdeburg. Although the work itself is a spectacle, this setting creates a special delight.
Tickets for all performances were sold out in a very short time. Each performance was with a standing ovation from the audience for several minutes. They did not only spared the palms, but also was beating their feet on the floor! Older singers of the Magdeburg Theater say they do not remember the similar reactions of the audience here.
The Magdeburg audience is notorious as a more conservative, which especially appreciates classical settings. The reading of the Dutch director Michiel Dijkema is by no means like this: the expected Beijing Imperial Palace, whose halls glitter the richly decorated silk dresses of courtyards, he replaced with dark bamboo forest with rocky muddy paths roaming by bloodthirsty members of the tribe!
However, this great artist did not stop there with the “temptation” of the audience. After the scene of torture and death Liu, who also took to death Puccini himself, the entire forest disappears before the eyes of the audience, the entire tribe is left without their costumes and makeup. A sudden aesthetic cut announces the final duet and chorus, all artists dresses identically performs on an empty stage! (great finale was completed by Franco Alfano, according to Puccini’s sketches). The last, thundering chord follows… Silence in the audience. And then… Real delirium!
I would say that there is no “main” culprit for this “case”, because there are almost 120 “collaborators” on stage! Soloists, in whose actions I have also involved my fingers, or rather my voice. Then the opera choir, but also two additional choir ensembles and extras, with the magnificent Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the stage. They are all guided by the conductor baton of the General director of the Theater, the fantastic Russian-German maestro Anna Skryleva.
Of course, there are all those “underground people”, people that the audience does not see. Without them the engines of this “miracle factory” would stop, all those who take care of the stage mask, costumes, scenery, lighting… We are all guilty!
The plan was to have seven shows this season. Because of the great interest of the audience, the Theater Management subsequently put another performance. They considered the options for the next additional performances, but all stopped by the virus pandemic. I hope for a while…
Thanks to Marko for this report, we look impatiently to the opening of the Theater and the new plays. Until then, let’s mention some of the 120 “collaborators” that make artistic team. Also, we’ll greet with great applause all those who participates in the creation of this masterpiece:
Conductor Skryleva and director and set designer Dijkema are mentioned above. Jula Reindell designes the costumes and the dramaturge is Ulrike Schröder.
Irish soprano Orla Boylan plays title role of the Icy Princess Turandot. As Calaf alternately sings tenors Aldo di Toro from Australia and Kristian Benedikt from Lithuania. Timur, Calaf’s father, and the maid Liu are local soloists, Johannes Stermann and Raffaela Lintl.
In addition to our Marko Pantelić as Ping, Jonathan Winell as Pang and Benjamin Lee as Pong, both from the United States, makes the trio of Ministers.
Magdeburg Philharmonic Orchestra performs the music, with Opera choir of the Theater, the Magdeburg Singing Academy Choir and the Children’s Opera Choir of the “Georg Philipp Teleman” Conservatory.
Photo: Andreas Lander