Sunday, 29 March 2015

Andreas Schager - shining new Parsifal, Berlin, Barenboim

Andreas Schager made his role debut as Parsifal with Daniel Barenboim in a new production for the Berlin Staatsoper. From all accounts, Schager's the bright new hope in the Wagner tenor world. He sang an outstanding Siegfried in Barenboim's BBC Proms Götterdämmerung,  

At the time, I wrote"The sensation of the evening was Andreas Schager. True Heldentenors are rare and a singer like this is rarer still. Schager's voice is full of natural colour and beauty, which he uses well, creating myriad nuances and shadings. His phrasing is intelligent, bringing out character and meaning.  In Wagner, it's not enough, ever, to sing words without meaning. Each time Schager sang, I felt that I was learning more about Siegfried than I'd fathomed before. Every  passage was individual, purposefully and beautifully expressed. Schager's voice is flexible, so he can do subtle changes of inflection without sacrificing line. He also has stamina. Though the part isn't a killer like that in Siegfried, it shouldn't pose problems. Schager has strong lungs but also strong technique. 

He can also act. He inhabits the part so intuitively that his body becomes an extension of his singing. His movements are instinctive and expressive.  Schager could not have had much coaching for the part since he only stepped into the Berlin production at short notice, and from what I've read, it was one devoid of Personenregie. When Schager moves, we remember that Siegfried grew up with animals in the forest, a true child of nature. Even when he dons a suit, Schager's agility suggests that the real Siegfried still lives within. The sheer joy and energy in Schager's singing makes us realize that, for Siegfried, everything is new and exciting."

Although Siegfried in Götterdämmerung, isn't quite as much of a tour de force as in Siegfried,  Parsifal in Parsifal is definitely a leap to the top, an anointment of sorts, promising a good future. 
Austrian born, Berlin resident Andreas Schager has quietly been building up a career in the smaller but more esoteric German houses, gaining the sort of experience that comes with hard work and total immersion in repertoire. He sings a lot of Wagner and did the title role in Rienzi twice, including this January in Hamburg. He's not a Met-style publicity creation and puts the hype about the Met Siegfried into perspective.  I was wracking my brain trying to remember where I'd heard Schager before and remembered the superb Mozart Magic Flute from Berlin in April 2013, where  Schager sings the first Armoured Man. It's not a huge part, but he's singing it with the Berliner Philharmoniker.

No comments: