Although this is quite possibly the lowest paid chorus gig I have ever accepted since being a student (please don’t ask), my summer at Wannsee was all the same glorious. Call it food for the soul, if not for the wallet. Volker Schlöndorff directed this year’s production of Carmen on beautiful Stadtbad Wannsee. To add a bit of media hype, a collaboration with arte meant that not only were the lead roles cast through a reality TV series, but that the entire production was broadcast live on arte, featuring the bright new stars discovered through the show.
And what bright stars they were. Erika Brookhyser was everything Carmen should be – passionate, energetic, bold, sassy, and brave on stage. Bonus points for smoking a cigar so sexily on stage. Christian Schleicher was on fire, his gorgeous tenor voice was consistent and perfectly suited to the challenging role of Don Jose, night after night after night. Mercedes and Frasquita were played by Emma Parkinson and Anna Gütter respectively. Ingo Witzke, David Pichlmaier, Michael Bachtadze, Vincenzo Neri, and Sigurd Karnetzki rounded out the cast. I was humbled and impressed by the remarkable conducting talents of Judith Kubitz.
What made this production so special? Well, despite the surplus of talent, location, location location. An enormous black fan sprawled elegantly atop the stage, which meant the audience could see right through it and watch the glorious sunset over the lake (just in case they were bored with the performance). The backdrop was simply extraordinary. Equally cool for the singers was going for a quick dip in the lake in between rehearsals, and eating way too many Magnum ice-creams to beat the heat.