Sunday, 18 September 2016

Theater Basel | Die tote Stadt (The dead city)

The opera the dead city based on Georges Rodenbachs novel 'Bruges-la-Morte' is Erich Wolfgang Korngolds masterpiece. For Simon Stone (director of Engel in Amerika and John Gabriel Borkman that will play again this season at the Theater Basel October 9th 2016) it is his debut as an opera director and the production is conducted by Theater Basel’s Music Director Erik Nielsen.
The stage setting is like an apartment with everything there is, a living room, a bedroom, a kitchen and even a fully functioning shower. The rooms are always open to at least one side and as the house is on a rotating platform the audience can see every room.
Paul settles in Bruges after the death of his wife Marie, unable to deal with his loss he attempts to preserve her existence by creating a room he calls his "church of the past", the walls full of pictures of her and an altar for the wig made of her hair. He lives a secluded life until he meets the dancer Marietta who in his eyes looks exactly like his dead wife. By keeping her close he hopes to be able to bring back Marie into his life and he becomes more and more absorbed in an obsessive love. But the closer he gets to Marietta the more he sees how different she really is to Marie and he starts to realize that in this life there is no way to bring back the dead.

We think the story is very sad and hopeless and it is hard to watch him being sucked deeper and deeper into this destructive love. The staging is very impressive and towards the end it is not only in the music you can tell him is stuck and sees no way out of his misery but also in the arrival of a crowd of women dressed just like Marie, men dressed like Paul and children dressed all the same hassling him on stage and the abstract and senseless composition of the different rooms of the apartment.

Rolf Romei as PAUL
Helena Juntunen as MARIETTA / MARIE
Sebastian Wartig as FRANK/FRITZ
Eve-Maud Hubeaux as BRIGITTA
Ye Eun Choi as JULIETTE
Sofia Pavone as LUCIENNE
Karl-Heinz Brandt as VICTORIN
Nathan Haller as DUKE ALBERT

piano: Leonid Maximov and Iryna Krasnovska
choir of the Theater Basel
M├Ądchen- und Knabenkantorei Basel
Symphony orchestra Basel

musical direction: Erik Nielsen
production: Simon Stone
stage: Ralph Myers
costumes: Mel Page
choir: Henryk Polus
dramatic composition: Juliane Luster

pictures © Sandra Then

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