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Singer as director: Rolando Villazone is directing Bellini’s “La sonnambula”.

Singer as director: Rolando Villazone is directing Bellini’s “La sonnambula”.

In this Dresden co-production with the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées Paris, the Metropolitan Opera New York and the Opéra de Nice Côte d’Azur, director Rolando Villazón proves that the plot also deserves a contemporary approach. The all-around talent is recognized as a gifted singer, screen presenter and stage director, as well as a successful writer and original painter, and since 2019 as director of the Salzburg Mozart Week.

Narrow in the middle of the mountains

Villazon demonstrates the eccentric nature of this character, who is seen as a phenomenon due to his exclusivity and marginalization by society.

The stage design by Johannes Lejacker makes this narrowness evident in the midst of the mountainous world, showing the living space of the villagers on one level – nine narrow doors, behind which one shields oneself as a precaution – and above them the icy peaks, over which the amorphous weakness of the sleepwalker moves with a dance light.

The ups and downs of feelings are hardly understood

In addition to the great feelings of love, (alleged) betrayal, jealousy, rejection, and forgiveness that arise from the plot, there is clearly behavior in a tightly closed society.

For the straightforward Elvino insensitive to the pious spirit anyway. Lisa only now sees her chances increase, but she is found guilty of actual tertelli and promptly disposed of as a bride.

In his direction, Villazón perfectly illustrates how prejudices are stoked, and how groups of people turn against misunderstood outsiders, reject them and, at worst, lose their joy in life. Dealing with individuality in this way cannot only be found in icebergs.

Strong voices are required

The Saxon opera choir again (even poorly) showed character, though the director treated it in a rather consistent manner, but Jonathan Baker’s excellent musical setting shone. The main roles of the two rivals were Amina and Lisa, charming in acting and singing.

With Emily Pogorelc as Amina and Rosalia Cid as Lisa, two great sopranos made their Semperoper debuts. As might be expected, Georg Ziebenfeld also starred as the count’s docile, decent son who doesn’t like being seduced. Maxim Mironov shines with a touch of radiance and charm as Elvino, Martin Jan Nijhoff as lovable hapless Alessio and Ruth Venturero as lovable foster mother Teresa.

Dates and information
March 22, April 21 and 23, and May 1 and 5, 2023 from 7 p.m.

(According to the house, the show, originally announced for April 28, has been canceled.)

Total duration: 2 hours 40 minutes

Premiere: March 19, 2023