Arabella by Strauss at the Real: Nothing is what it seems

A distinguished protagonist and stage direction that underscores the story’s rawness, offset by David Afkham’s lyrical interpretation, underpin an intriguing premiere after Richard Strauss’ ninety years at the Teatro Real.

Opera is a kind of misunderstanding and entanglement. Life goes by peacefully until a half-overheard conversation leads to a massive Zapatista party. Arabella No exception. trying to replicate success Knight of the Rosecomposer Richard Strauss s Hugo von Hofmannsthal – trusted librettist – takes on the task of lighting up a Viennese comedy: some ruined aristocrat tries to marry their daughter off to a ruler and…you won’t believe what happens next.

As the good Nietzsche taught us, “there are no facts but interpretations,” so it is not surprising that some of the jokes that would delight the audience at the premiere seem to us, ninety years later, full of cruelty. Christophe Lowe proposes, in a production that premiered this Tuesday at Royal Theatrea Crude representation of the acrimonious relationships established between the characters in the comics, allowing the underlying violence to emerge on its own. Let’s sum up the argument: Waldner’s numbers are broke. The Countess pawns the jewels to pay the psychics and the Count has lost his shirt even the playing cards. All his hopes hinge on the profitable marriage of his eldest daughter, the beautiful Arabella. To save costs (dowries are known to be expensive) they force Zdenka, their youngest daughter, to pose as a maid. fathers of the year

It’s Shrove Tuesday, and the girl’s three suitors are waiting for her to decide on one of them. At that time, the powerful Mandryca, nephew of an old comrade, to whom the count wrote offering his daughter, arrived in the imperial city. white slave movement. The man is a breeder: his ribs slashed by a bear are mending, and he’s just sold a forest to make some change. The jingle of coins evokes fatherly affection for the count, who hastens to introduce the young people.

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In parallel, we have a fourth suitor in contention: Mathieu, a hussar, goes mad with love without knowing that everything is a sham by Zdenka, with whom he is secretly in love. We get to the carnival festivities, where Arabella meets Manderica and decides to marry him. She asks him, yes, to let her enjoy her last bachelorette night, and between dances and champagne, she sends off the rest of the suitors. But, oh, disaster, the poor boy listens as Zdenko (male socialization second-rate) meets a hussar of his affections in his sister’s chambers, where he plots a benefit from him—with the lights out—pretending to be: The wet fantasy of a psychoanalyst.

Logically, the handsome boycott explodes like hell and starts arguing in front of her social Austro-Hungarian. Things get ugly: swear words, men summoning themselves to the arena of honor and good reputation of a family of crooks up to their eyebrows in debt dragging on the floor. Finally, Zdenka takes off her pants (both literally and figuratively) and the mistake is made clear. The opera ends with Arabella’s merciful pardon. The lovebirds (who have only known each other for a few hours) sing happily and in love and the curtain falls.

as we said, Lowe underscores the horrors of the story using pithy detailing of characters and a stage space that shrinks and blurs as the action progresses. (It begins with the faithful entertainment of the poor chambers of the best family and ends with a white box, locked, which prevents the characters from escaping the embarrassment and shame of their last act.) The aristocrats are distinguished by great skill. Count Waldner (Martin Winkler) is a vulgar old man, full of tics and snide expressions. The trio of suitors (also ahem; there’s no room for one more Hidalgo) transition from arrogance to amazement (special mention to the cartoonish performance of Roger Smits) and the mother of creatures (embodied by the great Anne-Sophie von Otter, a smasher on stage; haughty, exceedingly beautiful and regal, with a cold, measured song) combines her influence in the Senate and extraordinary cruelty (when her youngest daughter tries to reveal her identity, she shouts at her that she would rather commit suicide and take the secret to the grave) with that voluptuous frivolity that good people love so much.

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There are many difficult moments that are presented on stage in an unusual way. The first, the moment when the crazy Mandryka (Joseph Wagner), with his tousled hair, ragged little suit and unbearable little beard, offends the cabaret artist (the exceptional Fiakermilli from Elena Sancho) before the idleness of all present. She, beside herself, goes from stunned to hysterical with a terrible nervous coloring that drops like a bucket of cold water down the hall. Another, last scene: a silent scene in it infected males They wait for their godfathers to kill each other in a duel while Zdenka stutters (Sarah DeVrieswow) she walks pathetically while clutching her pube (remember: she had to impersonate her sister to be one deflowered) to letting her hair down and walking around with her pants down, reassuring everyone with the promise of her imminent suicide.

in music, David Plush makes up for the stage roughness with a lyrical interpretation of the score.The melodies inflame and give us beautiful and touching moments, such as the love dialogues between the two sisters (Arabella de Sarah Chkiak Wonderful, with a very clean and eloquent aria) with which the opera opens and closes. It is curious that Strauss preserves the wonderful arias of falling in love and that he writes the commitments with suspicious precision. Love, according to von Hofmannsthal, is surrender: the loss of freedom. in ArabellaI guess nothing is as it seems.

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