Hans Heiling: a (not so fairy) tale for Christmas?
It was some ten years ago that I, somewhat hesitantly, started to watch Hans Heiling. Never before did I hear the opera, let alone see it. From Heinrich Marschner I only knew Les Vampyrs. And, besides, I was a bit afraid of the production. After all the hassle with the ballet in most of the opera’s Pier Luigi Pizzi directed, I feared the worst. Well, that was a surprise! I immediately recognized Pizzi: his predilection for colour (mainly red in all its shades), excesses and physicality was evident here too, but it really worked here.
Hans Heiling (Jan Svatos in Czech) was a legendary king of spirits; his name is often found in Czech and German legends. He falls in love with an earthly girl and swears off his magic power to marry her.
However, she is in love with an ordinary boy and rejects him. Disillusioned (“only a human can try his luck on earth”) Heiling returns to his underground kingdom. A male equivalent of Rusalka, but without the tragic end.
There is insanely good singing and acting, there is not a single weak role. I already knew how formidable Anna Caterina Antonacci can be, but the (also to the eye) very attractive Markus Werba was a true discovery. Very exciting and dazzling. Recommended.