A cycle of songs like the ‘Winterreise’ by Schubert (‘Winter Journey, D. 911’) lends itself to a thousand interpretations and on occasions it has even been staged. The Liceu knows this well, because in the I remember are the version that he showed in the Foyer in 2003 the prematurely deceased stage director Santi Palés with the baritone Markus Eiche and the pianist Jens Fuhr, –in the line of small-format theatrical jewels seen on that stage, such as ‘Tórtola Valencia’ by Xavier Albertí or Britten’s ‘Canticles’ by Tim Carroll– and, at the opposite pole, the formality of the reading that the German tenor Jonas Kaufmann proposed in 2014 in a one-on-one with Helmut Deutsch in the big room offered in the traditional way.
In a new proposal of the lyrical coliseumthis time the ‘Winterreise’ left the four walls of the building on La Rambla in an exercise that carried the Liceu brand to another corner of the city. The cycle took shape hand in hand with the stage director Barbara Lluchwhich is inspired by a work by the painter and sculptor Antonio López using videos by Tal Rosner (very consistent with the poems) and the lighting design by Conchita Pons, changing the stages of the Gran Teatre for nothing less than the dependencies of La Modelo, the former prison in Barcelona.
In this dialogue between different arts, he Antonio López’s iconographic universe (the recital is complemented by an exhibition at the Modelo itself) intersects with the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, author of the texts that Schubert sublimated with his music in two collections that would join together after his early death. Three worlds united by the proposal of Lluch, who travels from La Modelo to La Mancha de López and those sad Central European snowy landscapes that sing of heartbreak and the decline of life. Because the ‘Winterreise’, although it looks at unrequited love, transcends that feeling to become a metaphor for human existence and loneliness. And although the mixture of the light of Antonio López with the twilight tone of this handful of ‘Lieder‘ seems to be antagonistic, the choice of La Modelo for the recital and for the exhibition, a space that contrasted with the pompous audience on opening night, provided the necessary gloomy and abandoned edges to which the songs refer.
To the baritone Benjamin Appl –dressed as a convict, who crawled around the piano and moved around the gallery telling the public very closely–, it was the one who had the chance to put his talent into this proposal to which he applied his delicate, but also dramatic phrasing, passionately accentuating the poems and projecting forcefully in a space that, although it is not optimal for making music due to its accentuated reverberation and its acoustic permeability compared to Entença street, it did work adequately. Considering that the cycle has been interpreted by tenors, baritones, sopranos, countertenors and mezzos, that the timbre of Appl it is not dark enough and the treble sounds a little tight They are minor details before delivery. James Baillieu, from the piano, was an accompanist simply magnificentwhich extracted a pure and enveloping sound.