Sex, Drugs, and…. Mozart?

I’ve never been a big fan of Mozart operas.

Now before you recoil in horror, I’ll freely admit that people far more erudite than I find his work to be the most well-crafted in the entire operatic repertoire. But to me, the stories and music of that period just don’t measure up to the more fully developed (though less structured) work of cats like Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Offenbach, Bizet, etc.

But perhaps Mozart can be compelling if you twist it hard enough:

BERLIN, Germany (AP) — A Mozart opera modernized to feature prostitutes, full-frontal nudity, drugs and sadistic violence has created a storm in Berlin. The premiere of The Abduction from the Seraglio at the Komische Oper last week was met with shouts of “Scandal!” and “That’s not Mozart!,” and threats by opera house sponsor DaimlerChrysler that it would pull its $24,000 annual funding.

Did anyone else notice the irony of the company name? Komische Oper = “Comic Opera”

Perhaps the real story here is actually the director, to whom I give major style points for at least being consistent:

Two years ago, Bieito’s production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball at the English National Opera was panned by British critics for its nudity, simulated gang rape and cross-dressing. Tenor Julian Gavin withdrew from the lead role before rehearsals started because of the staging.

Bieito’s 2001 production of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at the ENO was booed on opening night. In that staging, Don Giovanni had sex in the back of a car and behind a bar, and instead of being dragged down to hell in the closing scene, he was stabbed to death by the characters whose lives he defiled.

That sounds about right.

  2 comments for “Sex, Drugs, and…. Mozart?

  1. Lesley
    July 2, 2004 at 3:57 pm

    Don’t know if you see much at LA Opera, but they’ve been getting downright raunchy recently!

  2. Ron
    July 3, 2004 at 10:34 am

    Funny you should mention that. In the original draft of this entry, I ended with a paragraph stating two assumptions about the director: first, that he wears a lot of black. And second, that he is (or will soon be) working for L.A. Opera.

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