Pro­fane and sa­cred in prox­im­ity

The Baltic Times - - FRONT PAGE - Michael Mustillo

The Lat­vian Na­tional Opera and Bal­let (LNOB) pre­miered on the 23 May its new­est pro­duc­tion, Richard Wag­ner’s mas­ter­piece Tannhauser.

Fin­nish opera stage di­rec­tor, Vilppu Kiljunen noted that his stag­ing ap­proach for the LNOB’S pro­duc­tion ‘‘was built around a cen­tral ques­tion: the con­di­tions that make love and lov­ing pos­si­ble in a cul­tural con­text, where the idea and role of a woman is vi­o­lently di­vided into that of a saint or a whore’’.

Wag­ner’s three act, four hour opera cen­tred on the strug­gle be­tween the sa­cred and pro­fane love, and re­demp­tion through love. It is a work which sees his­tory, myth and in­ven­tion come to­gether.

The opera’s Bacchanal re­mains a defin­ing fo­cus of Tannhauser, and the LNOB had The Baltic Times was in­formed en­gaged lo­cal strip­tease artists for the sim­u­lated on­stage or­gias­tic rever­ies, and to con­vey the psy­cho­sex­ual sym­bol­ism of the myth of Venus and her sub­ter­ranean realm of Venus­berg (Venus Moun­tain) which is fea­tured in the opera.

Wag­ner has a spe­cial place in the heart of Riga, where con­tin­u­ing en­thu­si­asm and sup­port for one of world’s great­est com­posers of the 19th cen­tury abounds in hon­our­ing him, through calls to brand Riga in­ter­na­tion­ally as "Wag­ner's city".

“I would pro­pose to launch an over­whelm­ing in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing cam­paign to ad­ver­tise Riga as the city of Richard Wag­ner,” Sergejs Nik­i­forovs from the Nams Ar­chi­tec­tural Stu­dio in Riga said.

Wag­ner’s stay in Riga though short, he was Chief Con­duc­tor of the Riga City The­atre from 1837-1839, was how­ever one that was ex­tremely cre­ative and ar­tis­ti­cally fruit­ful for the com­poser.

The first Wag­ner opera per­formed in Riga was The Fly­ing Dutch­man in 1843, shortly af­ter its pre­miere in Dres­den in 1843.

"Riga is de­scribed to me as the nicest place in the world, es­pe­cially when it comes to earn­ing money..." wrote Wag­ner to his wife, prior to his de­par­ture from Berlin to Riga.

Af­ter Tannhauser’s first per­for­mance, on 19 Oc­to­ber 1845, at the Koniglich Sach­sis­ches Hofthe­ater, in Dres­den, Riga saw Tannhauser per­formed at the Riga City The­atre on the 18 Jan. 1853, hav­ing be­come af­ter Wro­claw in 1852, the third Euro­pean city to have staged the opera’s per­for­mance.

The LNOB had en­gaged three out­stand­ing Fin­nish artists, Vilppu Kiljunen, the pro­duc­tions Set and Cos­tumer De­signer, Kimmo Viskari , and Timo Ri­ho­nen (in the role of Her­ma­nis) in con­junc­tion with Fin­land’s 2017 cen­te­nary cel­e­bra­tions of its in­de­pen­dence, the Fin­nish Am­bas­sador to Latvia, His Ex­cel­lency Olli Kan­ta­nen, told The Baltic Times.

‘‘Also on a his­toric note, I would like to point out that Fin­land saw the pre­miere of Tannhauser on 5 Au­gust 1857, with a per­for­mance that was given in Helsinki by the Riga City The­atre,’’ said Am­bas­sador Kan­ta­nen.

Speak­ing about the pro­duc­tion, Vilppu Kiljunen noted: ‘‘I wanted to bring feel­ings back, emo­tions back to the opera. I wanted to bring big ges­tures to the opera, but still have the con­tent. That con­tent is some­thing that is con­nected to cur­rent times, and it ac­tu­ally is the idea of the mod­ern hu­man be­ing, the in­di­vid­ual, that still lives here ev­ery­where with the need for free­dom. I think that the au­di­ence is go­ing to have a lot of things to think about-love, sex­u­al­ity, free­dom and mercy. That’s one of the big­gest themes in Tannhauser also. And from that me­di­a­tions they can think about their own life also.’’

‘‘Tannhauser draws his artis­tic in­spi­ra­tion from ex­pe­ri­enc­ing po­lar op­po­sites: the plea­sure he ex­pe­ri­ences in an un­der­ground grotto, and the as­ceti­cism he ex­pe­ri­ences on his pil­grim­age to Rome. He also loves women who are po­lar op­po­sites to one an­other, and searches for a way to com­bine these two op­po­sites to form a uni­fied whole: Tannhauser wants the sen­sual Venus to have Elis­a­beth’s chastity, whereas he wants the chaste Elis­a­beth to have Venus’s sen­su­ous­ness,’’ Kiljunen said.

Though it is Tannhauser’s "or­gias­tic dances’’ evolv­ing around the group­ing of sump­tu­ous youth­ful naked lust-yearn­ing women, which stand for the an­i­mal el­e­ment in love in Tannhauser, which may linger on the mind. Tannhauser jux­ta­poses the sa­cred and the pro­fane brought into dis­turb­ing prox­im­ity, where flesh and spirit share the same the­matic lan­guage, with re­flec­tion on moral and sex­ual con­cerns still largely a con­tem­po­rary theme.

But with­out doubt Wag­ner’s mes­sage is clear of ‘‘the power of the mu­sic of good,’’ sug­gest­ing that ‘‘from a mys­te­ri­ous eter­nal bias of hu­man na­ture, man fi­nally must pre­fer good. He has a soul that will be drawn on and up­ward.”

But the cen­tral theme for Kiljunen re­mains that of long­ing, or as he states ‘‘il­gus’’ in Lat­vian.

‘‘If ‘‘il­gus’’ means the kind of long­ing that has a need, an ex­treme need that you were born with, and you can’t live with­out that ‘‘il­gus’’, then that idea of ‘‘il­gus’’ is for me the main im­por­tant el­e­ment in Tannhauser,’’ Kiljunen said.

‘’Tannhauser has it, be­cause he is an ex­cep­tional char­ac­ter, an ex­cep­tional per­son.’’

‘‘The main point is that ‘‘il­gus’’ ex­ists and it’s a thing you have to live with, and there is no op­tion. You have to fight for it, be­cause it brings ev­ery­thing in your life. And you were born with that and you will live with that, and you will die with that.’’

Fur­ther up­com­ing per­for­mances of Tannhauser at the LNOB will be staged on 10 June (Satur­day) 18:00, 15 June (Thurs­day) 18:00, and 4 Oc­to­ber (Wed­nes­day) 18:00.

In­for­ma­tion on how to pur­chase tick­ets and per­for­mance de­tails can be found on the web­site of the Lat­vian Na­tional Opera and Bal­let: www.opera.lv.

Box of­fice: Mon­day-satur­day 10:00-19:00, Sun­day 11:00-19:00. Tele­phone: +371 67073777. E-mail: box­of­[email protected]

“Fin­nish opera stage di­rec­tor, Vilppu Kiljunen noted that his stag­ing ap­proach for the LNOB’S pro­duc­tion ‘‘was built around a cen­tral ques­tion: the con­di­tions that make love and lov­ing pos­si­ble in a cul­tural con­text, where the idea and role of a woman is vi­o­lently di­vided into that of a saint or a whore’”

An ab­so­lutely fan­tas­tic solid per­for­mance from the LNO Cho­rus, Riga Cham­ber Choir Ave Sol, Riga Cathe­dral Choir School.

Calls for an over­whelm­ing in­ter­na­tional mar­ket­ing cam­paign to ad­ver­tise Riga as a city of Richard Wag­ner

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Latvia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.