It is amazing what a difference a short talk by the chef dramaturg (head dramatist?) Dr Christian Geltinger made to my understanding of the Strauß operas I saw in Leipzig. He gave a short description of what to expect to see and then explained why the set was chosen.
Both the operas he introduced (Arabella and Frau ohne Schatten) had sets that were particularly relevant to the time in which the operas were written, but if you didn't know that, you might have been left wondering. The Arabella set in particular was very much a comment on the time in which the Opera was set and after the Opera, at the tram stop, when I overheard some Australians complaining about the Arabella production I was sorry they had not been able to hear the pre-concert talk.
|Dr Christian Geltinger |
(from the Leipzig Oper program)
Arabella is often talked about as a sort of musical, light and frothy, but there was nothing frothy about this production. All the characters were played straight and without frivolity and it made the Opera work as a serious comment about society and women's choices in society.
The set was disjointed for much of the Opera, much like floundering society structures at the time, only coming together right at the end of the opera when the characters had learned that dreams are fine, but not to be mistaken for reality.
I really enjoyed this non-musical-like version.