k r i t i k e n   . .   m u s i k t h e a t e r




Blaubart with Nina Stemme
Bartok: Herzog Blaubarts Burg
New York Philharmonic

Bartok: Herzog Blaubarts Burg, New York Philharmonic Lincoln Center
(I: Gomer, D: van Zweeden)


New York Times:
Bluebeard is usually portrayed as stiff, depressed and dangerous. But with his mellow voice and wiry physique, Mr. Kränzle also had a slightly dashing quality. He even egged his young wife into a moment of dancing. You understood better why Judith was drawn to him.

Seen and heard:
Baritone Johannes Martin Kränzle’s Bluebeard was remarkably human, not just a stock villain. I had empathy for his Bluebeard, especially when he implored Judith to ask no questions and simply love him. This Bluebeard, as much as his wife, was a victim of fate. Kränzle, who cut a debonair figure in white tie and tails, sang with equal elegance and authority. As dazzling as Stemme was, Kränzle, together with Gomér’s deft directorial touch, provided the setting which let her shine.

Oberons Grave:
Ms. Stemme and Mr. Kränzle made the Bartók glow in all its dark radiance with their powerful vocalism and intense acting. They played beautifully off one another, seeming to feed off each others energy as well as off the astonishing sounds being produced by the artists of the Philharmonic.It was a performance to immerse oneself in totally, and by the time the harp and horns marvelously underscored Mr. Kränzle's spectacular vocalism at the opening of the fourth door, I was thoroughly enthralled.

Bluebeard Kränzle was excellent, coping with the role's tessitura with ease, beauty and nuance. His use of declamatory singing was also effective.

Paterre Box:
Kränzle on the other hand delivered a captivatingly nuanced portrait of an aging, exhausted seducer fated to repeat over and over his lethal marrying ways. Tall, gray-haired and bespectacled, his Bluebeard was far from the haunted romantic hero some have envisioned. At 57 his strongly burnished baritone rang out authoritatively. Surprisingly this Bluebeard was more about his journey than Judith’s—the toll of the consecutive opening of the doors wore more heavily on him, and his ever-shifting moods were riveting to savor.

Classical Source:
Kränzle gives the Duke a very human personality, taking pride in his domain and evoking love and lust as well as a sense of humor as he embraces and even dances with Judith.

New York Classical Review:
Stemme’s focus and power, and Kränzle’s clear, assured singing did it all. The characters age, the influence they had over each other, the sense that they were lost in, and would be lost without, each other came through with absolute clarity and strength in their singing. They carried the drama up to the opening of the fifth door. At that point, Bartók’s writing is so extraordinary and grand that he himself seemed to force the orchestra into his world. To that, Kränzle’s singing added a visceral sinister touch—the combination of beauty and foreboding boosted the performance to a higher level.

Classical Voice:
Johannes Martin Kränzle as Bluebeard, and Nina Stemme as Judith gave the best performances this listener has yet heard either by way of recording or several decades of Metropolitan Opera productions. Both artists are superb actors and masters of their opulent voices.