Friday, April 11, 2008

Jackass: The Opera

It used to be, when someone mentioned Germans doing Italian opera, we thought of the grand and aloof Herbert von Karajan conducting the greatest singers in the world. Now it's withered Brechtian wannabes indulging in the musical equivalent of fecal smearing:
Giuseppe Verdi, one might think, is hard to mess up. But a theater in the eastern German city of Erfurt seems to be doing its best. In a re-interpretation of the opera "A Masked Ball," which opens on Saturday, director Johann Kresnik has hit upon a dramatic novelty: His staging has naked pensioners wearing Mickey Mouse masks, wandering around the ruins of New York's World Trade Center.
"Novelty." Well, I guess someone's got to be the first one to do the stupidest opera staging in the world, so you could call that a "novelty" if you like. I'm guessing that the rest of humanity isn't too envious of the man who holds that title.
In all, there are to be 30 aged nudists -- between 50 and 69 years old -- sharing the stage with a Ground Zero backdrop. In other scenes, actors wander the stage wearing US flags and burning Uncle Sam hats. Indeed, there is little subtlety in the message Kresnik intends to send.
"Aged" nudists - yeah, that'll have them breaking the doors down. Nude protests these days seem to be a speciality of the aged, the flabby, the saggy and the shrivelled. And it's usually old-timers who want to do this kind of thing, the sort of people who just can't let go of the 70s, when they might have been in shape not to look too ridiculous doing it. I'm guessing that the aged nudists in this production aren't singers - not many opera singers are still going at 69. They must be just props - mutes hired to shuffle around in the buff.
"It will be a different, a provocative masked ball on the ruins of the World Trade Center," Kresnik told the German news agency DPA. "The naked stand for people without means, the victims of capitalism, the underclass, who don't have anything any more," he says.
Well, that's certainly been my experience, living in that world leader in capitalism, the United States. I never could walk around Dupont Circle without encountering hundreds of nude men, though come to think of it, that might not have been entirely due to the predations of capitalism.
He also admits to wanting to call America's global position of leadership into question.
Yeah, I'm sure they had to beat that confession out of him.
By the time Kresnik is finished with his radical remodelling of "A Masked Ball," little will be left of Verdi's story of love, jealousy and reconciliation. This production, assures Kresnik, whose Marxist background is well known, is intended to be dramatic political commentary.

"One has to introduce new elements," he says. Otherwise it is difficult to attract new theatergoers.
Oh, yes, that sparkly new concept, Marxism. Do you dare introduce something so novel and unfamiliar? In East Germany, of all places? I came across something novel myself this morning: a search through Wikipedia, which told me that Karl Marx was born in 1818 and died in 1883, while Giuseppe Verdi was born in 1813 and died in 1901. By the time Verdi died, 'Das Kapital' was already grandpa's ground-breaking novelty.

It never fails to astonish me how time stands still for leftists. Darwinism and Marxism were born in an era when leeches and bleeding were still up-to-date medical practices, yet the old mutton legs still keep being warmed up and offered as spring lamb.

I get so mad when I read about frivolous assholes like this Kresnik. The Islamic fanatics are right when they say the West is weak and decadent, at least when this sort of garbage can rise to the top. With the incredible wealth of Western art and music at one's command, to ooze out an abortion like this is unforgivable. At times like this, I *want* the other side to win. I want fools like Kresnik to experience their own 9/11, to feel on their own hides what oppression and tyranny do. They've thrown away their birthright, so they deserve to starve and die in the desert outside the walls of the citadel - the walls they've gleefully helped tear down.



Anonymous Antique said...

"Otherwise it is difficult to attract new theatergoers."

I think where he misses the boat is that part of the economics of this also say to RETAIN the theatergoers you already have.

x=10000=annual average attendance

y=50=new theatergoers who like crap

The math before this monstrousity:

x (total=10000)

The math afterwords:

x+y-x (total=50)

10:13 am  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...

They will cease spewing this fetid Marxist swill when sufficient numbers say: "Enough." Trouble is, we don't: if it’s a singer/conductor/orchestra etc. we like, we buy tickets, half close our eyes and post-performance, sheepishly marvel to our friends on the resilience of Verdi/Wagner/Mozart et al; how their music seems to stand up to anything. So long as we plunk down the bucks, the cultural thugs will perceive, correctly, there is demand for their vandalism.

12:29 am  
Anonymous Sibyl said...

Same thing happened in ACoC and TEC, Bovina...we liked the atmosphere, music, form, fellowship, so stayed quiet while the heretics moved in and set up shop and finally have denied The Christ and are proceeding to persecute His Children.

9:10 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jackass? More like Droop-ass...

9:54 am  
Blogger The Bovina Bloviator said...


You noticed that, too?

2:57 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

Yes, Sibyl is right. And another factor was that people were cowed by the fancy reputations of the avant-garde hooligans. When operas became filled with barkingly ugly sets, costumes and interpretations, people just said uncertainly, "Wellll, I'm not a musician. They must know what they're doing." And when the same idiocy infected the churches, people were awed by the university and seminary degrees, and quavered, "Well, they must know..." and let the fools take over without even a fight.

3:15 pm  
Anonymous Fitzroy said...

I'm making the rounds of blogs that have written on this subject. So far, no one other than the self-obsessed director seems to be impressed. The victims of 9/11 deserve better, and even if the director's incoherent politics have trumped his moral faculties, he should at least realize that Verdi deserves better.

My take on this is at

2:45 pm  
Blogger Dr. Mabuse said...

And yet as you say, they're practically sold out! There's something seriously wrong with a culture that can find enough people to support and encourage garbage like this. Why should the director rethink his ideas? They're popular enough to pay the bills, for whatever reason (and I suspect that trendy, safe, anti-Americanism is a big one).

8:52 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And yet as you say, they're practically sold out!"

But it's Giuseppe Verdi. A lot of opera buffs buy tickets mainly to hear the music. If this were an new, wholly original opera it might be a different story. He's trading on the popularity of Verdi to try and sneak his political message out.

Ellie M.

7:45 pm  

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