The dreaded appearance of director Dominique Meyer from behind the main curtain boded poorly for the opening of Hungarian composer, Péter Eötvös’ Tri Sestri at the Staatsoper Sunday evening. Instead, however, of announcing a last minute cancellation, Meyer offered the audience a moment to stand and pay their silent respects to the late Nikolaus Harnoncourt, who passed away Saturday. Although Harnoncourt seemed to have a closer relationship with Theater an der Wien than with the Staatsoper of late, it was a touching, appropriate offering of respect.
Up-and-coming director Yuval Sharon along with stage designer Esther Bialas ran with Eötvös’ approach spectacularly, placing the entire drama in a massive room with walls reaching to the heavens, and candlewax drippings to the floor, an indication of passed time. On numerous rolling treadmills, objects and figures – including birch trees, clavinovas, stylized marching soldiers and massive doors – are continuously transported though the room, putting the entire action into the context of a dream world, unhinged from the hooks of chronology. Each sequence is treated differently in terms of color and shading – Iriana’s white dress turns dark after her sequence is completed, in the second sequence a blend of brown tones with purple and grey shadings are featured, and so on. Sharon’s detailed approach to direction needs particular commendation – touches like the rhythmic clinking of spoons against teacups in the third sequence were genius, and he deserved every bit of the raucous applause he was granted. The only thing that did not blend with the rest of the look was the video work (Jason H. Thompson) which, though beautiful, was extraneous and distracting.
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