DARMSTADT – The evening “Tendons and Desires”, which members of the opera company organized together in the Grand House, had the effect of completing the music theater project “Dichterliebe” at the Darmstadt State Theater. The motto quotes the first song from Schumann’s cycle and thus forms the leitmotif for an haunting program that continues through Claude Debussy to Hugo Wolf and remains true to the basic theme of fulfilled and disappointed love.
The Korean tenor David Lee is dedicated to the Heine settings from Schumann’s song year 1840, to which the composer has given the title “Poet’s Love”, with a strong emphasis and clear articulation, measuring the range between intimate sensation and bitter irony. The most convincing are the dreamy, thoughtful passages as in the song “I want to dip my soul into the goblet of love”, while the passionate chants like “I do not grudge” seem somewhat forced. On the grand piano, Neil accompanies with great empathy and differentiated touch. The wonderful aftermath of Schumann gains the character of soul reflections under his hands.
The six “Ariettes oubliées” by Claude Debussy, based on poems by Paul Verlaine, conjure up delicate images of nature in which the love tendon finds a convincing correspondence. It is no coincidence that the last two songs are each headed as watercolors, because delicate, changing colors characterize these compositions by the young composer. The soprano Karola Sophia Schmid succeeds with her sonorous, expressive voice, captivatingly conveying the inner tension of this cycle and crossing a wide dynamic scale. Neil Valenta shows his flair for fine impressionistic sounds on the piano.
The three Michelangelo settings by Hugo Wolf from 1897, the last pieces of his great song creation, conjure up the transience of everything earthly, for example when the second song says “Everything ends that arises”. And yet in the third song “Feel my soul” Wolf takes a late love boom. The Korean bass Dong-Won Seo designs these songs in a highly concentrated manner, with a powerful voice and a dense word-sound relationship. In this way the deep seriousness of these compositions is communicated.
Only a few listeners came to experience this poetic evening, but the applause for the four performers who ended up on the big stage together was enthusiastic.