Torsten Rasch's 'stunning' opera receives German Premiere

Torsten Rasch's 'stunning' opera receives German Premiere
Ever since its world premiere Torsten Rasch’s opera, The Duchess of Malfi, has shocked and wowed audiences in equal measure. The German premiere at Chemnitz Opera in March was no exception; director Dietrich W. Hilsdorf brought to life the blood-curdling drama (based on John Webster’s 17th-century play), the cast – including mezzo Tiina Penttinen as The Duchess, and counter-tenor Iestyn Morris as her brother Ferdinand – poured rich emotion into the twisted characters, and the Robert Schumann Philharmonie sent Rasch’s sumptuous, darkly-infused music swirling around the house. (The same orchestra also premiered Rasch's operatic suite Das Haus der Temperamente.) The German press were quick to praise this ‘stunning’ opera.
 
REVIEWS
 
‘This music is stunning!’
‘The stage is seethes with true-to-life images… a music of emotional depth and a sumptuousness of sound-colours… The music is not just illustrative, but pushes forward and gives impetus. One is spared the deliberation of whether the 'new' is also beautiful. This music is stunning! The pace is aligned to the narrative flow of the stage… Ferdinand has crackpot jumps which mirror the emotional world of his existence… The dark-expressive music is the order of the day for conductor Frank Beermann and the Robert Schumann Philharnonie...’
Freie Presse (Marianne Schultz), 25 March 2013
 
‘a cumulative treat of art’
‘The music of this fascinating score by Torsten Rasch pushed dramatically forward, never decorative or just ‘padding’. Combined with the stage production, the result was a cumulative treat of art… 12 minutes of roaring applause after the last curtain was well deserved.’
Das Opernglas (G.Helbig), May Edition
 
‘an invitation for intensive listening from the very beginning’
‘Visually you get your money's worth. Aurally too with Torsten Rasch's music, whose spatial dimensions extend an invitation for intensive listening from the very beginning. Despite the blatant action, Rasch does without blatant music; with him ‘doom’ grows out of silence, sallow passages for woodwinds, and spongy surfaces of brass. Although there is no traditional opera tunefulness (a fine-spun network of chamber music-like characteristics of instruments is attributed to the characters on stage), sweeping opulence breaks out in a ludicrous ball scene. And here, as in the more restrained atonal passages of characterization of wolves in human skin, the Robert Schumann Philharmonie provided strong moments.’
Dresdner Neue Nachrichten (Boris Michael Gruhl), 3 April 2013