Premiere on December 22nd, 2013
Il Marchese di Calatrava / Padre Guardiano - Vitalij Kowalijow
Donna Leonora - Anja Harteros
Don Carlo di Vargas - Ludovic Tézier
Don Alvaro - Jonas Kaufmann
Preziosilla - Nadia Krasteva
Fra Melitone - Renato Girolami
Curra - Heike Grötzinger
Un alcade - Christian Rieger
Mastro Trabuco - Francesco Petrozzi
Un chirurgo - Rafał Pawnuk
Conductor - Asher Fisch
Director - Martin Kušej
Sets - Martin Zehetgruber
Costumes - Heidi Hackl
Lighting - Reinhard Traub
Chorus - Sören Eckhoff
the plot of La forza del destino is not really very credible.
The creaking, clunky action is driven less by Destiny with a capital D than by Hair-raisingly Hammy with a capital H.
But this is opera, after all, and Italian 19th century opera at that. So we know when we enter the theatre not to expect gritty fly-on-the-wall realism.
We hang up our credulity with our coats at the door.
Kušej is one such exponent of Regietheater. And an intelligent and thought-provoking one he is, too. So there was never any chance he would simply re-tell Verdi's far-fetched little story at face value for his star-studded new production at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich.
Sometimes all it takes is a different perspective. And the stark, visually arresting sets by Kušej's long-term collaborator Martin Zehetgruber offer just that: most striking of all in Act 3 where we're looking down onto the bombed-out building interior from a bird's eye view.
Kušej's staging will outlive anything but a one or two revivals.
Kušej's decision to re-tell the story in the head of Leonora, who seems to be suffering from some sort of post-traumatic stress disorder after seeing her father accidentally shot by her lover Alvaro, is intriguing. And it pays dividends if you let it.
Kušej's reinterpretation of the plot comes from the dinner table at which all the characters are seated during the overture, but which remains where it is during all four acts.
Kušej seems to be saying that in her state of shock and grief, Leonora is idealizing her dead brutish bigot of a father and turning him into the caring and loving figure she would like him to be who offers refuge and comfort.
Kušej's concept is ultimately successful.
Kušej and conductor Asher Fisch have assembled, getting a ticket for a second performance will be nigh-on impossible.
oth making their role debuts.
Harteros's soprano, so ravishing and creamy but with a solid core of steel, glints and shines with jaw-dropping beauty.
Tézier is every bit their vocal match as Carlo.
Fisch's neat and tidy conducting lacked real bite, but perhaps he will loosen up as the series progresses.