by Daniel Hathaway
Opera Circle staged an enticing production of Erich Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (“The Dead City”) on Saturday, June 14 at the Ohio Theatre in PlayHouseSquare. The opera is something of a rarity, probably because of the challenges of dealing with the eerie subtleties of its plot, its demand for a Heldentenor to sing the role of Paul, and its opulent 1920s orchestration. Die tote Stadt is a major undertaking for any small company, but Opera Circle admirably rose to the task.
Though not flawless, the production succeeded in the most important operatic category: the music. A strong and dedicated cast of singers and generally fine playing from a 65-piece orchestra expertly led by Grigor Palikarov brought Korngold’s colorful and sometimes creepy music vividly to life.
The opera, based on Georges Rodenbach’s 1892 novel, Bruges-la-Morte, and set in that Belgian canal town, explores the obsession of a widower (Paul) after the death of his wife (Marie). [Read more…]