|The Staatsoper’s FroSch Generalprobe|
Speaking at Vienna University’s theatre studies department ahead of his Frau ohne Schatten tomorrow night, Franz Welser-Möst was asked a number of questions about Robert Carsen’s revival, which in typical FWM style he took to mean questions about Christof Loy’s widely panned Salzburg production.
‘Ironicizing the ending of this opera is like ironicizing the ending of The Magic Flute. You just can’t do it,’ said Welser-Möst, who added for good measure that Loy had ruined the entire opera for him. ‘The ‘Christmas in Vienna’ resolution was like some bad operetta plot which belongs in Bad Ischl, not Salzburg.’ Welser-Möst also said that to perform the opera uncut was fine as a ‘one-off summer thing’ but wouldn’t do for the Wiener Staatsoper. ‘We must cut because we need to have a production in the repertoire for 20, 30, 40 years,’ he said (never mind that Dominique Meyer was hired with the express remit to stop this from happening).
We never did hear much about Carsen, though some other unrelated opinions Welser-Möst offloaded included his strong views on sets. It turns out he is the self-appointed head of what must surely be christened the Staatsoperbühnenbildaufsichtsrat, which is charged with clearing sets for productions as far off as 2015. FWM said that while one can’t predict the finished product or what will happen in rehearsal, it shouldn’t stop the house’s artistic leadership from urging directors to ‘think twice’ about ambitious scenery – and he says he’s already had to intervene with a production that will premiere this October. And when a director’s Personenregie gets too much for a singer, it’s perfectly fine to jettison that too – as he advised Simon Keenlyside before the Staatsoper’s Onegin, though in this case it’s hard to say what could have been so demanding. ‘I am absolutely not a stage director and have no desire to be one’, FWM added – except, that is, when he’s telling stage directors how to do their job.
Welser-Möst concluded by urging us all to come to Die Frau ohne Schatten and then, unable to stop himself, adding that the Generalprobe had to be cancelled after what has to be the most ironic power outage in all of opera left nobody in the building with a shadow.