Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of FIN DE PARTIE at Teatro alla Scala?

Review Roundup: What Did the Critics Think of FIN DE PARTIE at Teatro alla Scala?

Conductor Markus Stenz leads the world premiere of the highly-anticipated world premiere performance of Fin de Partie at Teatro alla Scala, the first and only opera by the beloved, visionary composer György Kurtág, composed at the age of 91. Based on the famous Samuel Beckett play, commonly performed in English as Endgame, the operatic version, to be sung in French, has been more than seven years in the making. At 450 pages, Fin de Partie is by far the largest score ever composed by the reputed "master of the miniature," who has for several decades maintained the desire of writing a musical treatment for the sparse, sardonically existential work. This production is staged by internationally-acclaimed artistic and theater director, Pierre Audi.

Let's see what the critics are saying...

Zachary Woolfe, The New York Times: "Fin de Partie" is a farewell not just to a life and a marriage, but also to a whole culture. Mr. Kurtag is one of the last who remain of the generation of avant-garde composers that came of age during World War II and in its wake: Boulez, Ligeti, Henze, Stockhausen, Schnittke. Even if the great final scene equivocates - modernism is always on the verge of leaving, it seems to say, yet it is also always here to stay - the opera, drawn from a play that Mr. Kurtag saw in Paris as a young man, is truly goodbye to all that.

James Imam, Financial Times: Nagg and Nell, Hamm's legless, bin-dwelling parents, are given more central roles here, and their black comedy comes across very well (singers Leonardo Cortellazzi and Hilary Summers). Pierre Audi's clever noirish sets reduce La Scala's vast stage to intimate dimensions. Conductor Markus Stenz draws razor-sharp playing from small clusters of instruments; the moment collective forces let rip, as Clov hovers at the door, is like dazzling light breaking through a dark veil. Kurtág's score is still in draft form. Much like Beckett's drama, the opera may never reach finality.

Andrew Clements, The Guardian: Certainly his cool, lucid production, with a design by Christof Hetzer showing the outside of Hamm's house and changing perspective from scene to scene, perfectly matches the opera's economy, just as Markus Stenz's conducting realises every detail of the score with the absolute precision Kurtág's music always demands.

So, too, do the four wonderfully committed singers - Frode Olsen's frighteningly austere, unbending Hamm; Leigh Melrose's gruffly submissive Clov; Leonardo Cortellazzi the touchingly fragile Nagg, and Hilary Summersas Nell, whose gentle, confiding delivery of the Roundelay gets this extraordinary, unforgettable piece under way.

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