An advertisement postcard of the Bavarian State Opera, Munich, from 2006, targeting possible sponsors and featuring Anja Harteros and Vesselina Kasarova in Christof Loy’s production of Händel’s “Alcina”. The slogan reads “The Bavarian State Opera needs partners.”
The choice of the word “partner” – both gender neutral and business associated – is curious. Just what kind of partners is the opera houses looking for? Is this postcard a low blow that is just trying to cash in on the “look, two women making out” voyeurism that is geared towards the stereotypical straight man?
Or could this also be a nod towards the large lesbian following of both Baroque genderqueer opera and Vesselina Kasarova?
Anyone who has ever seen a production of “Alcina” will contest that the gender roles in this queer opera favorite are twisted to a point that impedes any “look, two women…” voyeurism. Also, neither Kasarova nor Harteros invite fantasies of a”placid lack” that sits at the core of every pseudo-lesbian voyeuristic gaze. Instead, they offer quite a different take on the term “partner” with their strong, sensual and entirely self-sufficient role portrayals.