12 Apr 2008

Nude Ballo Maschera Set in Ruins of World Trade Center

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Contemporary European culture will be manifested in all its glory later today when a new production of Verdi’s Un ballo in maschera opens in Erfurt, Germany.


A German opera house is to unveil a provocative new production staged in the ruins of New York’s World Trade Centre.

It features naked pensioners and Mickey Mouse masks, Hitler salutes and Elvis impersonators.

The self-consciously outrageous September 11th staging of Verdi’s ‘A Masked Ball’ has been dreamed up by Austrian director Johann Kresnik.

He has described the concoction as a populist critique of modern American society, aimed at showing up the disparities between rich and poor, which attracting a large audience.

It will be a different, a provocative masked ball on the ruins of the World Trade Centre,” he told reporters before Saturday’s premiere. “The naked stand for people without means, the victims of capitalism, the underclass, who don’t have anything anymore.”

Rehearsals suggest that Mr Kresnik’s anti-capitalist staging is unlikely to be celebrated for its subtlety.

Some of the cast are dressed in soldiers uniforms, or in the red white and blue of Uncle Sam, or in day-glow pink Elvis costumes, slashed to the waist. Many, however, appear to spend their time on stage not wearing anything at all.

They include dozens local pensioners, recruited by the opera house in Erfurt, eastern Germany, to appear naked wearing nothing but plastic Mickey Mouse masks.

“It’s a very beautiful, poetic scene,” said Guy Montavon, the theatre’s general manager.

He said that 60 eager amateurs were keen to appear naked before an audience for the premiere, but only 35 made the final cut.

The staging deliberately toys with images that are extremely sensitive both in the US and Germany.

Foreign audiences may find naked singers cavorting in front of the iconic ruined mesh of World Trade Centre metalwork most provocative.

In Germany however, a female singer with a painted on toothbrush moustache performing a straight arm Nazi salute appears particularly conceived to outrage.

The original 1859 production of the opera was sadly impacted by Roman censorship, which forced the change of the opera’s setting from 1793 Sweden to colonial Boston, and reduced the rank of the assassinated ruler from king to colonial governor. One has to hand it to Herr Kresnik. He succeeds in making one feel that there is a definite place in Europe these days for some old-time Roman censorship.

One Feedback on "Nude Ballo Maschera Set in Ruins of World Trade Center"

Dominique R. Poirier

This happened at Erfurt, Germany, and it’s European, and it’s art, and it’s all about innovative forms of entertainment and artistic form of expression, bla bla bla…

All right…

Now one can notice that this unmistakable example of mere anti-American agitprop acting behind a pretense of “entertainment” has been performed at the Theater Erfurt, whose Generalintendant is Guy Montavon, for the record.

Because it happens that neither Guy Montavon, nor the Theater Erfurt are German; just in case readers assumed the contrary on the basis of what appearances suggest.

Things are not always as they seem. Remember?

This theater is all French as the Centre Français de Promotion Lyrique (French Centre of Lyrical Promotion) claims its direction and ownership. Masking behind a deceptive air of French officialdom, this NGO, headed by Mr Raymond DUFFAUT, seems to heartily involve itself into numerous entertainment activities on the French soil, which, often, share in common to spread, wittingly or not—we never know—far leftist ideology…

The main claim of the Centre Français de Promotion Lyrique is to be permanently looking for young unnoticed “talented artists”.
The meaning of “talent” is matter of controversy and passionate debate, nowadays. Isn’t it?

Well, if ever you happen to be willing to perform naked on a European stage and to bear America and capitalism a serious grudge, then you could be a talented artist with an interesting destiny awaiting you somewhere in France or in Germany! Who knows?

Ah, French anti-Americanism, again, and again, and again…

It was useful to remind all this, I believe.


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