The Venetian cultural calendar follows long undulations. The Architecture Biennale closed last weekend, and the “Stop Painting” show at the Fondazione Prada, curated by Peter Fischli, came to an end, a witty, dialectical reflection on the impossibilities of painting, which are laconically dissolved with Gene Beery’s canvas from 1986. “As Long As There Are Walls There Will Be Painting,” it says. Painting is a must, even if it’s colorful rags that Jean-Frédéric Schnyder used to clean his brushes and put together to form a huge patchwork.
While many smaller exhibitions are now being packed up in the city, the Teatro La Fenice has opened its season, late in the fall, as is customary at Italian opera houses. As long as there are people, there will be singing. And the opera houses came up with all sorts of things during the pandemic in order not to fall silent: streaming, placing the choir in a separate room next to the stage or the orchestra in the empty auditorium.
As a prelude, Ludwig van Beethoven’s only opera composition, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung. For the director Joan Anton Rechi, “Fidelio” is the great exceptional case in which a woman does not appear in the opera as a femme fatale and has to die a long death with relish. Leonore fights for her husband’s freedom, she is strong and independent, even if all of this was apparently only possible in a trouser role around 1805, when the play was premiered in Vienna.
None of this is new, but Rechi also understands “Fidelio” as a Covid piece. When the prisoners come out, they will have reached the end of the tunnel. Beethoven’s prison choir is supposed to spread confidence, ultimately all of the pandemic debates are primarily about freedom and freedom of movement.
The opera is about political prisoners locked up in dungeons, wrongly convicted. The comparison with the deadly viral event is not without its problems. At the premiere, the house is occupied down to the last seat, and the audience wears mouth and nose protection. The German Friends of Fenice have come, and real fans don’t shy away from any effort, even in old age. And afterwards the dignitaries meet for a gala dinner in the Sala Appolinea, a scene like from a Donna Leon film adaptation.
You will be asked for the Green Pass
Italy is currently more consistent than Germany in the fight against Covid, the tough measures of the Draghi government are obvious and encouraging. Impressions like this are always anecdotal, but you have to say: In Venice, the Green Pass is asked for and checked, even if you just order a cappuccino in a bar.
The pandemic is a symphony of horror, it penetrates everything and finds the most fitting expression of absurdity in the “Fidelio” horse singers. Because Fenice’s choir sings with a mask, the protagonists don’t. So the choristers behind the Mascherina blare undaunted: “Oh what a pleasure, in the open air / to lift your breath slightly!” And further still: “We want to trust / rely on God’s help / hope gently whispers to me: We will free, we find peace ”.
Then it goes back into the darkness, the prison director comes. The rescue follows after the second act. “Fidelio”, vacillating between classical and romantic, is actually an absolutely special case in opera history. Here it comes to the perfect happy ending, everything will be fine for everyone. In the pre-Christmas rush of emotions, director Rechi also ensures that Marzelline, who is unhappy in love with Fidelio, finds her happiness.
Source From: Tagesspiegel