Sergei Prokofiev: The Fiery Angel
Teatro Real, Madrid
Tugan Sokhiev Conducts the Vienna Philharmonic
Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky
Santtu-Matias Rouvali Conducts Sibelius and Tchaikovsky
Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto No.2
Sergei Prokofiev: The Fiery AngelTeatro Real, Madrid
Live from the Teatro Real in Madrid, an adaptation of Prokofiev’s flamboyant masterpiece by the ever-radical Calixto Bieito
An event. Since its premiere in 1954, more than a year after Prokofiev’s death, the critics have deemed The Fiery Angel to be his most ambitious and powerful opera, with orchestral writing of rare density. The Russian composer and conductor was inspired by the 1907 novel of the same name by the poet Valery Briousov, one of the leading lights of Russian symbolism.
In 16th century Germany, Renata, a mysterious young girl, believes the devil has appeared to her in the guise of an angel of light, seducing her into the practice of witchcraft and spells. From this novel about passionate, spiritual love bordering on madness and in which reality and fantasy merge, Sergei Prokofiev creates an opera full of lyrical force and nightmarish pandemonium.
DESCENT INTO HELL
Calixto Bieito offers a very contemporary rereading, transposing the story to the present day and depicting the everyday life of a young woman suffering from extreme psychic disorders. A devastating inner journey, “involving schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, trauma, anxiety and depression – all very common phenomena in our time,” says the Spanish director. “We are probing the unfamiliar world of mental illness.” Hence the astonishing scenography of his adaptation, in which a cube several storeys high set on a rotating stage represents Renata’s psyche. “We move through the spaces of her memories, we see her fears, her pain, the labyrinth of her soul. The cube will increasingly dissolve as the drama plays out, just as Renata’s brain explodes at the end or, to put it another way, she becomes increasingly dissociated from reality as she finally loses all her bearings.”
Seldom performed because of its complexity, Prokofiev’s work is a genuine event whenever it finds creators that are equal to its demands, which are served here by two soloists who truly inhabit their role: Lithuanian soprano Aušrinė Stundytė and British baritone Leigh Melrose.
Performance filmed on 5 April 2022 at the Teatro Real in Madrid, Spain
Photo: © Javier del Real
Orchester des Teatro Real
Chor des Teatro Real