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22.4.09

Lulu at Home in Lyon


Berg, Lulu, directed by Peter Stein, Opéra de Lyon, 2009
The Opéra de Lyon has mounted a new production of Berg's Lulu, the first ever (!) of the entire opera and in its original language in the company's history. The debut was entrusted to German director Peter Stein, who adds Berg's masterpiece to his growing CV at the Opéra de Lyon since 2004, including three Tchaikovsky operas (Mazeppa, Eugene Onegin, and Pique Dame). Marie-Aude Roux wrote a review (A Lyon, une "Lulu" puissante et sensuelle dans une mise en scène digne des Années folles, April 23) for Le Monde (my translation):
At 71, Peter Stein is still a formidable director of stage action: precise, pertinent, often inspired -- there was not a note of the score that did not have its repercussion on the stage. Stein wanted his Lulu to be like that of the silent film of George Wilhelm Pabst (Loulou, 1929), the angelic face and boyish haircut of the actress Louise Brooks. The seductive costumes of the Roaring 20s (by Moidele Bickel) are equally hymns to the ravaging beauty of Lulu. The same is true of the pompous Art Deco sets by Ferdinand Wögerbauer and the veiled, quasi-mystical lighting by Duane Schuler, which complete this luxurious vision, sometimes at the edge of kitsch. American soprano Laura Aikin possesses the entire arsenal of seduction of the heroine, a femme fatale in the curvaceous body of a teenager. With a mutinous pout and splayed body, long legs and stratospheric top range, she unleashes desire and death with an impudence as palpable as Berg's sensual score, explosive up to the point of Jack the Ripper's knife, who will take credit for the seductress's defeat in a shabby London brothel.
We have been following Laura Aikin's successes in Europe, especially in contemporary opera, for several years, and this is only her most recent triumph as Lulu. (Speaking of which, Washington National Opera has yet to mount a production of Lulu, but I suppose that will have to wait for financially more secure times.) This production continues in Lyon through May 2 and will later travel to La Scala in Milan in April 2010 and to the Wiener Festwochen that summer.

1 comment:

Garth Trinkl said...

Speaking of which, Charles, despite the company's exceptionally strong commitment to modern and contemporary opera in its earlier years (including Schoenberg's Erwartung), the Washington National Opera still hasn't mounted Alban Berg's swift and dramatic Wozzeck, much less Alban Berg's more dramatically complex and epic Lulu.

See Vickie Carlson's WNO timeline at:

http://wnoplaybill.googlepages.com/playbilltimeline.htm