Opera Review: Wozzek

Israeli Opera, Alban Berg: Wozzek, The Opera House, November 26.

Wozzek 370 (photo credit: (Yossi Zweker)
Wozzek 370
(photo credit: (Yossi Zweker)
Alban Berg’s opera Wozzek, in a revival at the Israeli Opera, is a masterpiece of hopelessness.
Portraying a murderer as a victim of social discrimination, hypocritical morality, ridicule, adultery, jealousy and insanity, the action unfolds gradually from initial confusion and helplessness up to the final climax of killing and suicide.
It was an excellent, strongly impressive performance, with subtle, tasteful direction and sets by Manfred Beilharz and Bernd Holzapfel, abstract but poignantly suggestive, carefully avoiding realistic banality and the abundant pitfalls of intricate human relationships.
The singers did full justice to their dramatically and emotionally demanding roles. In the lead role, Phillip Horst’s dark-timbred bass-baritone convincingly expressed Wozzek’s accumulating mental stress from desperation to uncontrollable madness.
In the role of Marie, Merav Barnea emerged as a veritable discovery. Her bright, appealing soprano personified innocence and submissiveness.
Tenor Arnold Bezuyen’s rich inflections, as the Captain, and Vladimir Braun’s sonorous baritone, as the Doctor, represented caricatural characters, just as the composer presumably may have intended.
Conducted by David Stern, the Symphony Orchestra Rishon Lezion enriched the performance by poignantly and persuasively conveying even emotions and dramatic situations that were not expressed explicitly in the text and the action.