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Arlo McKinnon
Opera News, April 2012

The eighth of the [Albert Camus'] ten operas, Caligula is grand opera at its finest—a powerful and disturbing work.

…the music is lyrical, horrifying, humorous, tragic, sensuous, captivating and repulsive, as suits the drama. Glanert’s orchestration favors the high and low extremes of each instrument’s range, creating an abiding sense of tension throughout the opera. The final scene…is musically breathtaking. Here Glanert builds enormous tension through making the music grow increasingly slow and quiet. Hans-Ulrich Treichel’s libretto…streamlines scenes to meet the needs of operatic treatment. 

The Frankfurt production was blessed with a superb cast. Baritone Ashley Holland sings the difficult lead role with great aplomb…Holland makes it sound natural to the character. Caligula is a great addition to the baritone repertoire, and Holland makes a fine champion for it. As Caesonia, Caligula’s wife, mezzo-soprano Michaela Schuster proves to be a versatile and accomplished interpreter. Martin Wölfel sings the role of Helicon…with a projective power not usually associated with countertenors. As Cherea…bass Gregory Frank conveys confidence, control and a restrained fearlessness. Markus Stenz leads an energetic, dynamic performance by cast, orchestra and chorus. Kudos to the chorus for their wonderful performance of Act IV’s “Deine Augen sind leer”…a poignant, largely a cappella lament on the futility and emptiness of the world Caligula has wrought.

Glanert is to be commended for creating one that is also compelling—and appealing. Caligula deserves to be presented in the major opera houses of the world. © 2012 Opera News Read complete review

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