Blogger - en opera dummie - Meng Li vertelt over zijn eerste operaconcert in 2011.
"Mijn nekharen gaan overeind staan. Wat een volume, wat een zuiverheid, en die ronde volle klank! Wat ik op de oppervlakte al wilde afdoen als een saai kamerconcert voor bejaarden ontplooit zich tot een waar festijn voor het luisterend oor. Schubert brengt diepgang in prachtige composities en tekst. Mahler kruist meesterlijk muziek met volkspoëzie."
A golden voice
Gazing out over the sea of grey heads, you see a splash of colour and a curious face here and there in the distance. Carefully, just like them, I have dared to buy a ticket for a Sunday afternoon concert in the Doelen. I'm just an operatic novice and the name Angelika Kirschlager means nothing to me, but someone who knows about these things said something about a 'golden voice'. Now, I'm no Donald Trump, but if something is described as being golden, then I get curious.
The entire concert is devoted to melancholy German music, with works by Schubert, Mahler and others on the programme. Wrongly, I admit, I immediately think of a well-known opera by Wagner. But that's surely not this? The internationally renowned mezzo-soprano comes elegantly onto the stage. I'm disappointed. There's only a grand piano on the stage and I was expecting an orchestra. Can I put up with this for a whole afternoon? I sink into my seat and think of my telephone in my handbag. The applause dies down and Helmut Deutsch, the pianist, begins. The hairs on the back of my neck bristle. What volume, what purity, what round and full sound! The singing is amazingly beautiful and the accompaniments force you to listen. What I had first thought was going to be a boring concert for pensioners has suddenly turned into a real feast for the ear. Schubert brings depth with splendid music and words. Mahler masterfully blends music with folk poetry. I have to laugh out loud at the exaggerated attack on the low C at the end of Das irdische Leben.
After the interval there are mysterious songs by Brahms and moving pieces by Lizst, all with texts by the great German poets. At no time does it seem that there is anything lacking in the enchanting singing of the Austrian mezzo. Even though the concert hall is big and she is only accompanied by a piano, this makes no difference to the grandeur of sound with which she fills the hall.
A pleasure for the ear
The bobbing grey heads of the audience, the elegantly restrained movements of the pianist and the singer all make me think of the bend in the Rhine at Sankt Goarshausen by the Lorelei rock, where legend says that a nymph cast a spell on passing sailors with the beauty of her song. And sure enough, now comes a song by Liszt with words by Heinrich Heine — Im Rhein, im schönen Strome... This was a surprising first acquaintance with opera, without stage, costumes, or sets, just the music: a real pleasure for the ear.