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Berg: Wozzeck (Georg Nigl, Mardi Byers, Bolshoi Opera / Currentzis) [DVD]  
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In 2010, for the first time in its history, the Bolshoi Opera presented Alban Berg s masterpiece 'Wozzeck'. Dmitri Tcherniakov s truly historic production is now available in this HD DVD. The Russian director s aim with this bold, sensitive transposition was to highlight the hidden sorrows of a late 20th-century man dwelling in a megalopolis. The redoubtably complex title role was entrusted to Austrian baritone Georg Nigl. Nigl studied with Kammersängerin Hilde Zadek. Over the last few years he has worked with, among others, Thomas Hengelbrock and his Baltasar Neumann Ensemble, Jordi Savall and his Hesperion XXI Ensemble, and Giovanni Antonini and Luca Pianca and their Il Giardino Armonico. American soprano Mardi Byers plays Marie. A native of Colorado, she made her international debut as 'Tosca' in Lübeck and Elisabetta in 'Don Carlos' in Wiesbaden and Basel. She has also sung Donna Anna and Suor Angelica at the New York City Opera, as well as Elisabeth in 'Tannhäuser' and Ariadne. The Proms audience saw her in Mahler 8 in 2010 with Jiri Belohlavek. Greek conductor Teodor Currentzis directs the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra and Chorus. Artistic director of the Perm Opera and founder and musical director of the Musica Aeterna ensemble, Currentzis is now to be seen in the world s leading venues: the Opéra de Paris, Opernhaus Zurich, Bayerische Staatsoper Munich, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden and the Teatro Real in Madrid.
Everyone involved in this November 2010 live filming …. knows exactly where they are going and gets there triumphantly … Currentzis gets first-class playing and ensemble in the soty of fiery, expression-full but quintessentially non-Romantic account of the score. GRAMOPHONE OPERA CHOICE --Mike Ashman, Gramophone - December 2012
...Much credit for this significant revival must be given to Teodor Currentzis, whose commited conducting inspires the Bolshoi Theatre Orchestra to deliver and urgent account of the score. --Erik Levi, BBC Music Magazine February 2013
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Director Dmitri Tcherniakov is among the most respected art directors active today and for very good reasons. He is nowhere near as provocative or idiosyncratic in this opera, as say, Calixto Bieto in his 2010 production, but nor is Tcherniakov as by the book as Mussbach (in what was, for a long time, the only available version and an ultimately inadequate at that).
This is not to say Tcherniakov's staging is not an interpretive one. Indeed, he takes a frightening, Orwellian approach. The tonal shift from soldier to business man casts the opera in a political sheen, which is apt as Berg's libretto does not shy at all from such implications.
Sociological themes abound. Wozzeck (Georg Nigel) is caught in a 21st century bourgeoise hell, living his postmodern, virtual life in perverse role playing games while failing to make human contact with his lover, Maire (Mardi Byers). Byers excels in her role of a frustrated sex symbol type. Their son is even more alienated, a constant, distant spectral presence, only coming to life with Wii remote control in hand.
And oh, that box.
Nigel and Byers are as up to their respective roles vocally,as they are in the acting department. The remaining cast is uniformly superb, including Maxim Paster, as the Captain, Pyotr Migunov as the Doctor, and Xenia Vyaznikova as Margret.
There is much more to Tcherniakov's thoughtful concepts, which everyone can probably agree captures the contextual and gestural spirt of Alban Berg (of course, the opera fundamentalists will carp, but they can just go home).
The dvd includes a valuable making of documentary. There is room on Berg's shelf for this Wozzeck.