Impressive season opening
Huge amount of foods at the Beethoven Festival was served in Bonn Opera: Janacek's House of the Dead in a so daring as successful performance. Director Tomaz Pandur draws the hopeless situation of the prisoners not in his flat realism, but in an abstract manner: by means of an aesthetic sado-masochistic show he presents each prisoner in his own thinking, celebrating the protagonists confess living in the pleasurable masochism. This creates an aura of power, multiplied by the simple stage design (Sadar Vuga Arhitekti) and video projections. The compelling musical conduction by Roman Kofman brings the Beethoven Orchestra Bonn brilliantly through the delicate score, introduced singer, dancer and chorus of scenic intensity that arises no differences among the participants. Musically as well as content brilliant are the singers of the main roles including: M. Tzonev, V. Grishko, M. Rosenthal, P. Danailov and K. Thurman. Extremely fascinating for the open-minded spectator.
(MF crescendo, the magazine for classical music and lifestyle, 06/2004, Munich)
The opponents were equivocal:“Fascistic!“ they screamed as Tomaz Pandur staged Dante's Divine Comedy in Hamburg three years ago. And so it is good that Pandur has now staged Janecek's concentration-camp opera in Bonn. It is good that he has created it to be aggressive and tender, political and romantic, realistic and yet overflowing with fantasy. The critics ill surely hold back this time: in Bonn one knows well that boiling mass scenes needn't have anything to do with fascism.
(Kulturnews, September 24,2004, Hamburg, Germany)
Far and away from any prison-yard naturalism, Tomaz Pandur and his company have created a modern opera. The stage is spanned by the three dangerously sliding platforms illustrating the hierarchy of the gulag. At the bottom: the repressed masses, the newcomer Goriantschikow and a caged eagle with a broken wing, embodied by a suspended blonde youth spinning circles. In the middle: the few individuals who get to tell the story of their lives. On the top: a row of leather-clad young men in black briefs, reminiscent of the population of gay SM clubs, posing here as unholy androgynous “flaming creatures“. Their studded leather is only a bait, triggering violence induced by sexual deprivation. Pandur stages the scenes of sexual violence in hints and points towards the bitter truth: freedom is not to be had without the fight for freedom.
(Westdeutsche Zeitung, September 28,.2004, Düsseldorf, Germany)
In the production Tomaz Pandur staged in Bonn the term “number“ has a two-fold meaning. On the one hand, the lines of flickering figures projected on the stage perpetually remind us that personal identity is degraded to numbers. On the other hand, Pandur handles the individual stories simply as numbers of a musical revue. Even the set-design, three vertically moving slabs threatening to squash the performers, abstracts violence and sexuality. The subject of homosexuality, provided for by the libretto casting a soprano in the role of Tartar boy Alej, is treated with artifice and underlined by the virtuoso movements of ten dancers. The relentless production, overloaded with moving pictures, doesn't give the audience a single moment to rest. Pandur's concept is focused and carried out with great craftsmanship. The constant irritation is a willed and masterfully executed principle. Pandur's “House of the Dead“ is an extremely modern opera championing unusual ideas and a demanding measure by which this seasons productions will be judged.
(Online Musik Magazin, September 20,2004, Wuppertal, Germany)
Theatre director Tomaz Pandur specialises in hell bound journeys. His direction of Dante's “Divine Comedy” at the Thalia Theater in Hamburg was an exemplary blueprint of his infernal visions: a direct attack on the viewers’ senses, an open fire of excessive carnality. Continuing in the same vein at the Opernhaus in Bonn, he opened this season in a quite spectacular manner. Pandur avoids realism in his rendition of Dostoevsky’s novel based on the writer’s traumatic experience in a Siberian prison-camp where he was sent after his death sentence was revoked before the firing squad. Transylvania meets Matrix in Pandur’s timeless Siberia, triggering associations ranging from Gulag to Bagdad.
(SaarbrückerZeitung, September 30,2004, Saarbrücken, Germany)