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<<  -- 2 --  David Wilkins    DISTURBINGLY INSINUATING

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The Giant is clearly an Everyman figure from a long literary line. All the underlying messages about society's responses to its various outsiders are treated with a kind of Brechtian obviousness. There is a deliberate shunning of the subtle. On its most basic level, this is part parable and part fairy-tale. And yet -- Turrini and Cerha and, thanks to the depth of his exploration of the character, Hampson, do make you care about this man and his story.

Wolfgang Bankl as The Village Mayor in 'Der Riese vom Steinfeld'. Photo: Axel Zeininger
Wolfgang Bankl as The Village Mayor in 'Der Riese vom Steinfeld'. Photo: Axel Zeininger

Hampson describes his protagonist as, 'certainly naïve -- but I have a feeling that he's a really wonderful person. I don't think that he's mentally retarded ... it's just that he has no filter mechanism.' The principal objective in early rehearsals was to keep him as human as possible. Initially there was the question of portraying the height: 'At the first rehearsal, they brought me these stilts. No! I said. It'll look like a circus no matter what.' The solution of built-up boots allows for a more natural mobility. I wonder whether Hampson, or another performer, in any future revival, might take the brave risk of dispensing with any kind of prosthetic and using only the undoubted magic of his stage presence to generate the necessary compassion.

Branko Samarovski as The Composer and Alfred Sramek as The Devil. Photo: Axel Zeininger
Branko Samarovski as The Composer and Alfred Sramek as The Devil. Photo: Axel Zeininger

The singer clearly relishes the role, says that he regards Cerha as an extremely important composer ('a real romantic'), and was involved in the project from the beginning. He doesn't want to say, however, that the work was written for him -- 'There was a list of who could and who would. I was on that list. Cerha knew that I would do it when he wrote the piece -- perhaps that defined the tessitura a bit for him. But I don't see where he necessarily wrote it for Thomas Hampson's voice but, rather, for a voice like Thomas Hampson has.'

Branko Samarovski as The Composer (left) and Alfred Sramek as The Devil. Photo: Axel Zeininger
Branko Samarovski as The Composer (left) and Alfred Sramek as The Devil. Photo: Axel Zeininger

 

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Copyright © 1 September 2002 David Wilkins, Eastbourne, Sussex, UK

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