Strauß II: Zigeunerbaron

It’s always nice to take an afternoon out in Baden, which I combined today with Zigeunerbaron by Johann Strauß II at the Stadttheater.  

The Bühne Baden, as the local company styles itself, mostly entertains people taking their cure in the spa town, and many of their productions are just for fun rather than for any particular acclaim.  Sebastian Reinthaller, for many years a leading comic tenor at the Volksoper, spent three years as the artistic director here, and still comes out to sing.  His voice sounded a tad tired this evening, but that meant he did not overpower the other members of the perfectly adequate if not particularly distinguished cast.  I did get the feel that this performance, in the middle of their six-week run, did not make them especially enthusiastic – mostly going through the motions.  One motion they unfortunately did not go through was to affect the requisite Hungarian accents (perhaps the most charming foreign accent in German and an essential element to a number of classic comic operettas with Hungarian characters).

The staging was neither here nor there.  The co-directors provided an essay in the program to explain how they went about dealing with the historical inaccuracies and elements that are not politically-correct in 2018.  But Strauß meant it as a fictional comedy and was not trying for historical accuracy, and the non-politically-correct elements were in general not critical and anyway to be taken in the context of a period piece (1880s).  I am not sure the changes they made to the plot (including some alterations of the music) even improved anything anyway.  But they could all be safely ignored to just listen to the music.  Franz Josef Breznik beat time in the pit, and there was a certain local Austrian lilt to the playing as could be expected given where we are.

In all, the performance accomplished its goal as an evening’s fun entertainment.

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