Offenbach, Die Schöne Helena

Went out to Baden this evening to see a performance by the Bühne Baden of Offenbach’Schöne Helena in the Baden Sommerarena in the Kurpark.  Simple performance, relatively true to the original.

Offenbach is notoriously hard to stage, because many of the jokes in the text were dated already soon after the premieres, dealing as they did with political intrigue and current events, and required constant updating.  Since tonight’s performance was in German, the text needed a reworking anyway.  Rather than try to adapt to current events, where the jokes might fall flat, the production stuck to a more-or-less basic translation of the farcical setting of the “real” cause of the Trojan War.  Naturally, a few jokes at the expense of Greece’s current financial woes crept in, but these came in elliptically and not directly.

This opera has great music right the way through – Offenbach’s greatest triumph, in my opinion.  They modified bits of it and added the Can-can from Offenbach’s Orpheus, but most of the cuts came to the otherwise dated dialogue.  Elisabeth Fleichl and Sebastian Reinthaller, from the Volksoper Ensemble, starred as Helen and Paris; Michael Zehetnerkept things light in the pit.

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