Countess vs. Queen: Why Geschwitz’s middle name should be Regina

[This is why. – Natascha Petrinksy as Countess Geschwitz in Berg’s “Lulu”, Bruxelles 2012.]

Warning ahead: This is not a very substantial post. At all. This is merely celebrating Natascha Petrinksy and the costume department of La Monnaie for a Geschwitz look that was distracting me from the performace-analyzing I was trying to do. And I mean that in the best possible way.

For starters, I didn’t know whether to tag this post “hot mezzos in skirts” or “hot mezzos in pants”, since that Act 3 outfit didn’t involve either:

(Act III appearance, London scene, bringing the painting of Lulu)

Also, legs:

(Act III, London scene)

And then there was a whole lot of uncanny resemblance to Lana Parrilla’s Regina going on – including some Snow (*snicker*) Magic:

…some Royal Remorse:

..some shaking fists at the Season of Great Separation:

…some “I’ll be holding onto that gun in Sheriff Swan’s absence”:

…and, quite possibly, some really freaky Magic of Conjug- Conjuring:

Backlines are the new necklines:

(Act II, Virgo shares scene)

Did I already mention legs?

(Act II, at the Schöns’)

Uhm, what legs?

(Act II – “Ich muss gehn, Frau Doktor”)

Either way, my new SwanQueen headcanon is that once, before settling on bland Daniel, Regina fell through the rabbit hole due to some of Cora’s magic and ended up in a world where everyone was singing dedecaphony and she fell in love with a no-nonsense blonde (because Regina has a type, down to the red jacket) named Lulu, who unfortunately turned out to be a sociopath and left Regina heartbroken.

  (My apologies to anyone not into Swan Queen. Just ignore my comments and simply enjoy the photospread of Natscha Petrinksy’s Countess Geschwitz instead)

13 thoughts on “Countess vs. Queen: Why Geschwitz’s middle name should be Regina”

    1. it looked the same to me – I read the costumes as bit by bit losing parts nad changing over the acts, equalling the loss of comfort and dignity of the characters (also Schön’s fitness get-up belongs here) – like Geschwitz at the end: hanging on to a decorum that is out of place where she is (jacket), but utterly exposed and vulnerable (lack of trousers/skirt).


  1. Sometimes, but really only sometimes, I wish I could live in your head!
    Regina Mills is my new carefully observed fascination, delete that, obsession. If only she wouldn’t remind me so much of a former Psycho boss of mine. Renders the whole thing slightly perverse. But alas, I WILL trek on!


    1. yes, PLEASE do trek on!

      And please put that pssycho boss image out of my head, you’re curdling my Swan Queen fantasies!! 😉

      We should meet up at a kitchen table soon for some mutual “brainstorming”…


  2. In situations like this the less the merrier. I happened to stumble on this a bit earlier in the day than you did and naturally felt obliged to make time….In the event though there are certainly many, many things to admire about Hannigan’s performance Petrinsky does seem to walk away with the honors.


    1. I couldn’t agree more! (and it says something when you make a smaller role more memorable than a soprano who can ballet dance… I kept blinking at the screen, never seen that before in an opera singer)


  3. It was hard to look away from. Like car crash television, and at the same time, degrading for every character. I thought the performance was good from both actresses – given the deliberate hardness of the original script. I note it was semi finished in 1928, before the Wall Street Crash, so there is something meaningful about the Act 2 scene where everybody starts out as railroad share millionaires and lose everything by the end of the scene. I’ve always had difficulty in how to interpret Geswchitz (and note that like the men, she’s almost always referred to by her last name – very masculine centric) – is she a “real person” or yet another aspect of society devouring the feminine? It reminded me of a line from a poignant Pogues song:

    “And I soon ended up on the old main drag

    There the he-males and the she-males paraded in style
    And the old man with the money would flash you a smile
    In the dark of an alley you’d work for a five
    For a swift one off the wrist down on the old main drag”

    I think there has been a more recent tradition in performing Lulu in trying to bring Geschwitz to life – Loy/Larmore’s ROH (which I confess I bought on blu ray but haven’t watched, described as bringing warmth to the character – and interestingly, not having the Countess stabbed in the final scene), von Otter in the Met in 2010 (sadness is the word most mentioned). In the totality of the production I like this Countess, but I think she is still intended to be part of the mechanism of exploitation and abuse that Lulu suffers, that is pictured very well in the sidelines by the ballet dancers and young Lulu lookalikes.


    1. To me, in this production even Lulu herself was a commentary on the mechanisms of exploitation.

      Lulu is such a difficult work to stage – all the suitors (including Geschwitz) projecting into her is one thing, but what is she? Claiming her as an empty spot of projection that may not even exist was a pretty good idea, I thought.

      With how social context and awareness has changed, Lulu is first and foremore a child abuse victim (starting wtih Schigolch) who ended up with sociopathic tendencies – if you want to take her at face value as a character, but there is so much projecting already going on in establishing her as a character that perhaps she shouldn’t be viewed as a character, but more as a plot device revealing the characters around her. It’s one of these pieces I’m highly conflicted about. Especially when seeing in discussions with predominantly female students (Lulu tends to figure into Women’s Studies now and then) that they completely overlook the abuse angle and don’t reflect the male gaze that has gone into writing the character.


  4. Good points Anik – and I think for a female viewer/listener – how we read/reflect/disregard or regard the male gaze is not consistent. Its interesting that students overlook the abuse angle. Particularly given that it is so much more openly discussed now than it would have been 60 or 80 years ago.


    1. yes, that’s really odd – and worrisome. There is still so much internalized sexism that apparently even university-level students can have a blind spot when it comes to gender-biased violence and abuse, at least when it comes with a high-brow stamp of cultural approval.


  5. Dear Anik, I just stumbled across these very photos of yours, or should I say, of myself ? 😉 And I loved the comments. Very funny and naughty. As ever, I am very flattered …… Much love, ;-))) Natascha


    1. Dear Natascha Petrinsky, tribute where tribute is due! 😉 (and not just for the legs)

      It was a great, moving portrayal that really showcased the two poles of active agency and vulnerability that are discussed in the comments above. I wish I could have compared your Warlikowski portrayal with the Poutney one in Cardiff this year, but I hope you will keep the role of Geschwitz for quite a few years to come, so I might still get a chance to see your portrayal live. — Also, your Amneris is still unrivaled. 🙂


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