Review: In Berlin, Opera Scales Up to Fill an Airport Hangar

Rather than early-Nineteenth-century sailors, these individuals recommend up to date bourgeois beachgoers, very similar to the oblivious leisure-seekers of the recent opera-installation “Sun & Sea,” too centered on tanning to understand rising seas or the migrants misplaced in them. Jean-Charles (the forthright baritone Günter Papendell) right here is perhaps an accountant or lawyer.

Benches come collectively to kind the raft and are sometimes indifferent to use as platforms across the pool. Death (the soprano Gloria Rehm, her voice by no means too harsh or laborious) is right here a glamorous diva in a glowing, skintight black robe. As they expire, the choristers trudge out of the water and again to their seats, so we within the viewers find yourself eerily immersed within the ghostly sound of the afterlife.

In each Gericault’s portray and Kratzer’s manufacturing, a lone Black determine is a focus. Unlike the portray’s heroic savior, waving purple cloth to get the eye of a ship on the horizon, the staging’s Charon, a Black lady (the resonant mezzo-soprano Idunnu Münch), is a pained, helpless witness: an help employee in a rowboat too small to save anybody.

With the manufacturing already depicting the bourgeoisie reworked into determined refugees, pressured to endure agonies they often ignore, this casting resolution furthers the sense of a reversal of the usual order of issues, through which whites look on (or not) as individuals of shade endure.

It’s an intriguing resolution. But in making an attempt to combine realism and stylization, Kratzer tends too naturalistic. As the shipwrecked passengers first scramble en masse towards the raft, splashing violently within the water, the sight is highly effective. Later on, although, the survivors’ reaching, greedy fingers and twitching our bodies come off as strenuous cliché, lessening quite than growing the depth and depth of feeling. It’s not crucial to see an actor dressed because the Jesus that a few of the poor souls hallucinate of their starvation, thirst and concern.

But close to the tip, the hangar’s super door, close to the aspect of the pool reverse the orchestra, slowly slides open. The temperature drops because the recent night time air pours in, and also you get a tiny, terrifying glimpse of the reduction that individuals in such a scenario may discover in dying. The survivors emerge from the pool and stroll out towards the darkish, huge expanse of Tempelhof Field, led by an emergency van.

It would have been apparent, even with out the van, that this forlorn procession was meant to evoke the trail taken by the migrants who’ve been housed at Tempelhof over the previous decade. But the opening of the door was a real, visceral dramatic coup, a becoming climax for a staging with the heft to really feel worthy of a exceptional house.

The Raft of the Medusa

Through Oct. 3 at Tempelhof Airport, Berlin;

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