WOZZECK by Alban Berg, directed by Lotfi Mansouri (Canadian Opera Company). At the Hummingbird (1 Front East). To April 13. See Continuing, page 77. $18-$175. 416-872-2262. Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Wozzeck, by German composer Alban Berg , is an ideal introduction to early 20th-century opera.
The plot, based on a play by Georg Büchner about a man driven mad, is easy to follow, making Berg's atonal, dissonant musical structure easier to understand.
Wozzeck ( Pavlo Hunka ), a soldier, is plagued with guilt over his illegitimate child by Marie ( Giselle Allen ). Poor and gloomy, he subjects himself to medical experiments by the Doctor ( Artur Korn ) to make extra money for his family. These deepen his delusions, and things end in murder.
An Expressionist piece should employ the most striking, haunting tableaux to indicate Wozzeck's descent into insanity, but this production fails to do so. Images of the goose-stepping Doctor, the grublike and slothful Captain and the depraved patrons of the beer garden should be more arresting. Instead, they feel empty, and not in a way that helps you understand Wozzeck.
They're empty because they're too simple, make a slight impression and do little to illuminate Wozzeck's tortured mind.
Some moments show what this production could be. The final image of Wozzeck's and Marie's small child playing with his hobby horse, oblivious to the horrors his parents have perpetrated against each other, is truly chilling.
Michael Levine 's Modernist set creates a fine frame for the action and speaks to the production's potential to be truly daring. Composed of white and black scrims with angled patches cut out of them, it visually represents Wozzeck's alienation and world view.