Thursday, May 07, 2009

Report: St. John's Passion / Johannespassion - Wiesbaden

Man am I behind! I sang the soprano solos in the St. John Passion at the Bergkirche (Hill Church) in Wiesbaden over a month ago! In my defense, you might remember that when I returned I was still in the midst of my enforced (by our ISP) internet-less period. Then, Magnus and I took off for our Easter visit to the In-laws in Italy. I had about 24 hours at home before I left for Frankfurt where Carol Baggott-Forte was teaching for a week. I'll write about that in a subsequent post.

Anyway. Overall, my experience was a good one. I had an easy trip to Wiesbaden, arriving quite early. The other soloists were very nice, which is always a plus and I had a chance to chat with the Alto soloist (who actually lives in Hannover too) and the Bass soloist. I was a little nervous for the rehearsal, which I attribute to wondering so much whether I was prepared enough and concerned that it had been so long since I sang in such a production. My singing wasn't stellar in the rehearsal, but it wasn't horrible either.

I stayed with my good friend and colleague, Bastian Baumann, who played the portative organ for the Passion. That was a stroke of luck because we were able to run through my arias at his house on the day of the concert. Bastian has a lovely way of getting the best out of me, giving clear suggestion as to how to improve things. He does this in such an encouraging way and that helped to calm my nerves.

The church was full to the brim and there were several of my former pupils from Frankfurt as well as my friend Caroline in the audience. We soloists were able to sit with our backs to the audience when we weren't singing, which for me was a God-send. The soprano soloist has but two arias to sing in this oratorio and Bach was so kind as to put one within the first 15 minutes and the 2nd (more difficult one) within the last 15 minutes. If that doesn't sound like a bad thing to you, then picture sitting in a cold church for an hour and a half between arias while your voice and your body falls asleep. Sitting facing the orchestra and choir meant that I could discreetly sing along with the choir and thereby keep my voice alive. It worked beautifully and I was even more satisfied with the 2nd aria (Zerfliesse mein Herze) that I was with the first (Ich folge dir gleichfalls).

Overall, I'd say the quality of this production was extremely high. The choir was, as usual, excellent and Christian Pfeifer (the Music Director and conductor) put together a fantastic baroque orchestra. I can't wait to hear the recording. When I get it I'll post my arias for your listening pleasure either here or at MySpace (providing the link, of course) or both.

The one review that appeared in the local paper after the concert was quite favorable all in all. The critic was slightly less impressed with my performance that with the other soloists, writing "Diane Severson proved to be very discreet and agile, she could, however, gain a bit more aplomb." I actually felt rather calm during the concert and could concentrate well on singing the music and being in the moment, but I guess I can't be surprised or wonder much about the critique.
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