Thursday | 08. February 2024

The pathetic, the lyrical, the comic with charm and great liveliness

First HfK opera project in Speicher XI A: Domenico Cimarosa's "Il matrimonio segreto"

A press release from Jens Fischer

HfK student Hyungi Kim sings and plays the role of the rich merchant Geronimo in "Il matrimonio segreto" by Domenico Cimarosa on February 15, 17 and 19, 2024 in Speicher XI A.
HfK student Hyungi Kim sings and plays the role of the rich merchant Geronimo in "Il matrimonio segreto" by Domenico Cimarosa on February 15, 17 and 19, 2024 in Speicher XI A. © K. Mayer / Hfk Bremen

What fun is being prepared with concentrated seriousness! Snooty nouveaux riches, impoverished aristocrats, love-struck youths appear, celebrate misunderstandings, intrigues, secrets, listen at doors, despair and blossom happily at the end: "Il matrimonio segreto" by the Neapolitan Domenico Cimarosa, first performed at the Vienna Burgtheater in 1792, is considered a prime example of an opera buffa. Alongside Mozart's works, it is the only comedy opera from the 18th century that still appears from time to time in the repertoire of European stages - and now the first opera project of the Bremen University of the Arts (HfK) to be performed in the event hall of Speicher XI A. Premiere: February 15, 2024, 7:30 pm. 

The evening will also be a farewell celebration, as it will be Gregor Horres' last opera production at the HfK Bremen. He has been teaching scenic design in the music department and directing music theater projects since October 2008. Now he is handing over the job to younger colleagues. 

Horres chose the work by Domenico Cimarosa for the finale of his HfK tenure because it is ideal for young singers. "They can present themselves well and are not overwhelmed. You need six soloists, each one has an aria, so you can work intensively with them alone, but there are also ensembles, so the interaction is also very easy to train."  The vocal ensemble of the first and second cast consists of nine students, while 40 fellow students have recorded the orchestra rehearsals with their instruments. 

Musical director Marco Comin tries to make everyone audible and develop a harmony. The Venetian studied piano and composition at the Conservatorio di Musica "Benedetto Marcello" in his home city and completed a conducting degree at the Hanns Eisler Academy of Music in Berlin. From 2012 to 2017, he was chief conductor of the Staatstheater am Gärtnerplatz in Munich and has since worked as a freelance opera and concert conductor. At Bremen's Theater am Goetheplatz, Comin conducted Verdi's "Un ballo in maschera" and Handel's "Alcina", as well as "Glocke" for the Bremen Philharmonic Orchestra. 

For the conductor, "Il matrimonio segreto" has a special status. "It is clearly no longer a Baroque opera, but a work of the Classical period, at the interface between late Mozart and early Beethoven, i.e. the transition to Romanticism, as well as a link to the Italian bel canto operas - as a forerunner of Rossini and Donizetti." As if it had been written by these two, viewed from the perspective of Romanticism, Cimarosa's score is often heard, says Comin. Against this interpretative tradition, he would like to create a fresh, new version at the HfK Bremen and make the pathetic, lyrical and comic audible with charm and great liveliness.  

The turbulent plot revolves around the merchant Geronimo. He wants a title of nobility and his servant Paolino arranges for him to marry Count Robinson, who is prepared to marry Geronimo's eldest daughter Elisetta, but falls in love with her younger sister Carolina, while her aunt is desperate for Paolino to marry her. Only an escape plan can help. Because nobody knows that Carolina and Paolino are in the titular "secret marriage" ... this is a great template for director Horres, who wants to serve up the action as fast-paced entertainment: "The costumes are somewhat modernized and so is the set design. All the characters come together with their interests and desires in a hotel corridor, a great place for these comedically surprising door-to-door games with all the mix-ups." The comic character of the work, inspired by the Commedia dell'Arte, is preserved. 

Why is it worth going to the opera? "Because there is funny, lively music, pure entertainment and a good insight into what singing students and instrumentalists learn at the HfK," says Gregor Horres. You can read an interview with him here

Gregor Horres, born in 1960, has been the director of the Upper Austrian Opera Studio at the Anton Bruckner Private University and the Landestheater Linz since the 2016/2017 season. In 1998, he became head director at Theater Bielefeld and has been working as a freelance opera director at various theatres since the 2005/2006 season.

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The performances of the opera project "Il matrimonio segreto" by Domenico Cimarosa will take place on February 15, 17 and 19, 2024, each at 7:30 pm, in Speicher XI A at the University of the Arts Bremen. Tickets for the three performances are available in advance from Nordwestticket, Pressehaus Weser-Kurier, regional newspapers and at the box office. Price: 23 euros (reduced 15 euros). 

Performers:
Singers of the HfK Bremen
Orchestra of the HfK Bremen
Musical direction: Marco Comin
Stage/costumes: Heike Neugebauer
Director: Gregor Horres