Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lady in the Dark: Vergiss für einmal den Weltschmerz

The many selves of Liza Elliott: Lady in the Dark Act I
Photo © Staatstheater Mainz/Martina Pipprich
Matthias Fontheim, departing Intendant of Mainz's Staatstheater, has directed a production of Kurt Weill's effervescent 1941 satire, "Lady in the Dark," as an exuberant, celebratory sendoff. (If this season and what I've heard of past and future ones are anything to go by, the celebration is deserved.)  The fluid staging made admirable use of a turntable in portraying protagonist Liza Elliott's varied environments, real and imagined. The saturated color and lively stage pictures would have been aptly suited to an MGM extravaganza of the time of the piece's creation (synopsis and more here.) I very much enjoyed the evening; while the vogue for psychoanalysis dramas (cf. this and this) has dated, Weill's keen take on the pressures on women (and men) transgressing expected social and gender roles remains pointedly relevant. Mainz's production cheerfully suggests that our best hope lies in facing these problems without taking ourselves too seriously.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Interval Adventures: Firenze!

As Gianni Schicchi reminds us, Florence is a beautiful city. I was delighted to have the opportunity to revisit it, with an academic conference to attend, and time set aside for exploring. I also made time to attend a concert, on which more later. On my exploratory ventures, I discovered a curiosity: a plaster model for a monumental memorial to soprano Virginia de Blasis. (The original is in the cemetery of Santa Croce.) She died young in 1838, but enjoyed a glittering career as a bel canto soprano.


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