White Shirt Monday: Here’s listening to you, Kid.

pieczonka fidelio bb

[You’ve got to know how to wear your boots: Is it just me or is Adrianne Pieczonka turning into the dream cast for Captain Janeway in “ST:Voy – The Space Opera”? – Adrianne Pieczonka as Leonora in Beethoven’s “Fidelio” as staged by Claus Guth, Salzburg  2015. – Screencap off a YT video. For Rittershaus screencaps, take a loot at the picture gallery at salzburgerfestspiele.at]

“Fidelio” might not strike many as a particularly queer opera – in fact, it’s so gleaming and so brightly anything but queer.

But there is always Marzelline, in love with a woman (whom she believes to be a man, but still) and there is always Leonore in drag. And on a good day, there is a Leonore like Adrianne Pieczonka (it isn’t her best fit vocally and one of my opera friends said “why can’t see sing an actual role instead of this?” because “Fidelio” is that uncool at times), who knows how to wear a nice pair of boots (it’s all about stance) and a suede trench that might fit in well with “Casablanca”; only that she is forced to ride off into the sunset with Florestan while she has to leave Marzelline, who dared to love her (and it’s not like Leonore resists all that much – yes, yes, only for the disguise, pfff), behind.

The new Salzburg “Fidelio” is, staging-wise, an insult to the craft. Pretentious standing-around to cast pretentious shadows onto the walls (oooh, look, subtexts!) does not make up for a lack of ideas. Or you know, staging. And cutting all the dialog to be edgy and slicker and less folklorist is kind of poor, too. It turned out like an oratorio, without the clear line of an actual oratorio.
Also, there is the oddly disjointed staging of Pizarro as a slew of Agent Smiths from “The Matrix” (ever-present evil with the anvil of subtlety?) and do not get me started on the downright embarrassing use of a sign language interpreter to play “Oh, look! Here are the hidden emotions visible at last!” (as if sign language would be incapable of irony and subtexts), which is something Guth has employed in the past, albeit to better avail then.

There are a few videos of the broadcast available via the YT channel of Shary B., the most interesting in a Geschwitz context being the Marzelline aria of “Oh wär ich schon mit Dir vereint”, with its quietly subversive imagining of a lesbian idyll of domestic tranquility (though really, who did start that unfortunate “self-breast-fondling to visualize a state of sexual arousal” when it comes to staging that aria? It needs to stop. It doesn’t take unrefined (or refined) self-groping to transport that Marzelline is turned on by Fidelio. We have ears, we get it.).

So, yes, craft-wise, the production is a mess. But it’s still pretty in visuals (Kaufmann, parquet floors, chandelier) and just different enough that it can be sold as broody and edgy and cool without actually being any of that (it’s a bit like watching OUAT when you enjoy good writing in addition).

So, yes, a mess.  But Adrianne Pieczonka does look really good in those boots.

And now I really want that Janeway space opera.

4 thoughts on “White Shirt Monday: Here’s listening to you, Kid.”

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