CGSP: White Shirt Monday
[Christine Schäfer as/in Handel's "Theodora", Salzburg Festival 2009. - Photo Credit: Monika Rittershaus for SalzburgerFestspiele]
The Salzburger Festpsiele website kindly states that photos (high-res and bigger and uncropped available at their web presence) may be used license-free when for purpose of reporting about the Salzburg Festival – something I am in this case more than happy to do.
Handel’s late English oratorio, “Theodora”, was among the new productions for this year’s festival, featuring Christine Schäfer (Theodora) and Bejun Mehta (Didymus) as the early Christian martyr couple.
The story is somber; despite the occasional religious contexts of Handel’s later oratorios, this story of self-sacrifice and rape is more a philosophical take on one’s stance regarding death and faith than anything else, and London audiences weren’t too taken with the world premiere.
The Salzburg production did elicit a much more positive response, with both Schäfer and Mehta getting rave reviews.
I am waiting for the DVD with thinly veiled impatience at this point, while a colleague of mine (I am not speaking to him at the moment due to acute envy) has actually traveled to Salzburg to see the production and reports that it was “musically divine” (Ivor Bolton conducted) and that the staging (Christof Loy) had “some brilliant ideas”, especially the one to have Theodora and Didymus exchange their clothes in an act of final assurance of each other, sharing themselves and strengthening their bond in face of certain death.
That leaves Bejun Mehta in a red dress and Christine Schäfer in one of the Loy-trademark men’s suits with a white shirt (“Lucrezia Borgia” or “Orphée”, anyone?).
No objection here.
It’s a poignant image that makes a lot of sense. That it’s also rather queer is merely a side occurrence, but one that is very welcome. – If love transcends death, why should it hinge on that pesky litte thing called gender?
[Bejun Mehta (Didymus) and Christine Schäfer (Theodora) --- Photo Credit: Monika Rittershaus (image bigger and better where the link leads you)]
A final remark at this point regarding the festival website: apart from letting normal mortals access photo material, the festival organization tries to offer more web content than in recent years in general. Check their daily pdf archives for background information, interviews, performance date and behind-the-scenes gossip information, available in both English and German. - Well, done, Salzburg!
Upcoming: a review of the Salzburg 2009 “Così fan tutte” which aired on Saturday and resulted in two pages of tightly scribbled notes on my part. Since I’m currently packing for a week of vacation, this will unfortunately have to wait until my return, but the review (which has already turned up as a search term in my blog stats) will be out before Salzburg throws out the “Guth/Mozart/da Ponte DVD box that I am predicting.
Meanwhile, for more on Schäfer (and other sopranos featuring prominently in Salzburg, such as the wonderful Dorothea Röschmann), head over to Purity’s for delightful and insightful ‘soprano goddess’ posts. – Happy week, y’all!