Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Operas next great Cassandra may be Seth Carico

Seth Carico as Cassandra (photo by Bernd Uhlig)
When we think of Cassandra in opera, we immediately think of the great leading ladies of opera who have portrayed her on the stage, particularly in Berlioz's masterpiece Les Troyens. One thinks of Geraldine Ferrar, Jessye Norman, Deborah Voigt, Anna Caterina Antonacci and Janet Baker, all of whom had career defining moments in the role of King Priam's daughter and prophetess. Well, move over divas, there's a new girl in town...and it's a guy!

Barihunk Seth Carico is currently starring as Kassandra (Cassandra) in Iannis Xenkis' Oresteia at the Deutsche Oper Berlin. The production has been mounted on the upper deck of its multi-story parking garage rather than on their mainstage. The premiere of the work was actually performed on a baseball field in Ypsilanti, Michigan.

The work is somewhat of a hybrid between dance and opera, with ancient Greek tradition being upheld as the chorus tells much of the story. As in other productions, the bass-baritone is expected to sing in both his natural voice and a falsettto making this an extremely difficult feat for Carico. In this production Cassandra is portrayed as one of two spirits trying to inhabit one body.

Michael Hofmeister as Athena photo by Bernd Uhlig)
The story begins at the close of the Trojan War and touches on Agamemnon’s return with Cassandra and the murder of them both by his wife, Clytemnestra. The core questions posed in the piece relate to guilt, ritual, religion and personal responsibility – or the agreeable system of social organization. The work ends with Athena’s establishment of mortal justice and her conversion of the Furies into the more benign Eumenides.

Seth Carico as Cassandra (photo by Bernd Uhlig)
The staging is by director David Hermann and set designer Christof Hetzer, who teamed up at the Deutsche Oper Berlin for Helmut Lachenmann’s The Little Match Girl. Performances continue from September 12-16 and tickets are available online.

This isn't Seth Carico's first appearance dealing with gender, regular readers will remember this post of him at the Fort Worth Opera in Mark Adamo's Lysistrata

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