Not all smiles

I’m never quite sure what I really think about an operetta like Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns.  I quite like the music, even if it can be a bit cheesey but I’m put off by the casual cultural appropriation (though it’s not nearly as bad as Puccini!).  I’m not sure what the best directorial approach is either.  Does one play it for froth?  Does one try and mine some deeper meaning?  Interestingly Andreas Homoki’s approach for his Zürich production filmed in 2017 is to play it straight and let whatever is there appear or not.  It works rather well.  It;s a typically lavish Zürich production with lots of colour and movement and he creates some spectacular visual effects.  But he also allows for a sinister element to appear in the Chinese scenes.  It may be over-interpreting but I think one can see shades of proto-Fascism here.  It’s reinforced by the score that really has some rather sinister elements that I hadn’t noticed before.  I think there’s even a nod to Siegfried’s Funeral March.  All in all, quite interesting without being wildly unconventional.

1.vienna

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La Comtesse Cecilia

Rossini’s Le Comte Ory is extremely silly.  It’s a crazy, gender bending romp with no real substance but plenty of rather crude humour and good tunes.  I suspect it’s beyond the wit of any director than do more than make sure the mad cap elements are mad enough but one is, I suppose, bound to try.  For their 2012 production in Zürich, Moshe Leiser and Patrice Caurier chose to set the piece in immediately post war France.  It works well enough and allows for a few visual gags but it doesn’t really add much to the piece.  Nor, though, does it detract.

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