Sunday, April 13, 2008

Elvis, A Mouse And Hitler Go Into a Bar...

From the files of WTF, an Austrian director named Johann Kresnik is going to produce his version of Verdi's opera "A Masked Ball" in Germany later this year. The opera is rather, um, F-ing weird? Yeah, that's it. F-ing weird. Here's a pic from rehearsals. Doesn't this look exactly like what you envision when you hear the term "opera"? (It also does not look like what I picture when I hear the term "subtle".)

The "opera" will take place on staged World Trade Center ruins. (That doesn't seem like it would provoke any controversy at all.) Did I mention it will also take place on September 11? No? It will. (Again, I can't imagine people would have a problem with this.) And it will also have a few more things. AND it will have a few less things. More things would include various characters. Less things would include clothes. Wait. What? That's correct. They'll be naked.
What kind of characters, you ask? Well, let me see...there are pensioners (apparently, a "pensioner" is one who receives a pension. So, retired German people? Why don't they just say that?) who will be naked. Adolf Hitler will be naked. (Yes, Hitler). Elvis will be naked. (Yes, Elvis.) And Mickey Mouse will be naked. (Yes, Mickey Mouse.) Once again, I ask you, "WTF?!"
Kresnik says that his creation "serves as his critique of the modern American society and it's aimed at showing the disparities between the rich and the poor." That could explain some (certainly not all) of the nakedness that the characters will be exhibiting.

Kresnik also says that all of the nakedness serves to "stand for people without means, the victims of capitalism, the underclass who don't have anything anymore." Um, really...all nakedness serves to stand for is people without any clothes, people who don't have clothes any more. That's the very definition of "naked". It isn't supposed to "stand" for anything. It's just naked and it's pretty simple how one gets that way. I don't need it explained to me in the form of a naked opera.
Uncle Sam Scene
Among those you will see in the naked and semi-naked cast, cavorting in front of WTC ruins, will be naked soldiers, naked Uncle Sam. and naked day-glo pink Elvis. Now, they won't all be naked all the time. They couldn't be. Otherwise you wouldn't be able to tell your naked Uncle Sam from your naked Hitler even with a program. (I was quite relieved to learn that these characters did wear clothes at some times during the opera because that "day-glo pink Elvis" description couple with a ghastly vision of a naked "King" in his later years actually frightened me.)

One more thing. Apparently those pensioners that I mentioned earlier? Yeah, they'll be naked AND they'll be wearing Mickey Mouse masks. Wait. What? (Perhaps to send the message that mice don't need clothes? Look, I'm all for animals not wearing clothes but, my God, I'm not for this at all!) Behold! Naked mouse pensioners!

Now, I ask you, is that really necessary? (They're not even people with good bodies in creepy mouse masks. And I am praying that a couple of those are women.) While I may think this is ridiculous and unnecessary (I do and it is, by the way), the theater's general manager, Guy Montavon, says, "It's a very beautiful, poetic scene." Um, I've seen beautiful. I've heard poetry. This is neither of those. This is WTF provoking at the very least. He also added that there were 60 "eager amateurs" who really wanted to appear naked before an audience for the premiere. Sadly, only 35 made the final cut (leaving the other 25 to wonder where in the hell they're going to find work that involves no clothes and Mickey Mouse headgear).

So who won't be naked? Well, there is a woman who is dressed up in a way as to evoke images of Hitler, complete with ridiculous little moustache, and she doesn't seem to be naked. Yes, that's correct. There is a woman in a bright pink dress with some Hitler-esque facial hair, giving a straight armed salute. And although she appears to keep her clothes on, that is really of little comfort to me at this point.

Now, I'm sure you're thinking that having a bunch of naked guys in mouse masks run around on a stage that is depicting the ruins of the World Trade Center after the 09/11 attacks might stir up a little controversy. Well, of course, because that's the intention of Mr. Kresnik. Because if there's controversy, people will want to see it. Naturally, the premiere performance is sold out. Subsequent performances later in the month have few tickets available.

Kresni's lame ass rationale for this atrocity is that "One has to introduce new elements. Otherwise, it is difficult to attract new theatergoers." I think it's going to be difficult to attract ANY theatergoers if you keep putting out stuff like this! Forget about "new" ones. You're going to be looking for "ANY" pretty soon, from what I can tell. But considering it's sold out, it is difficult to know exactly when that would be.

Of course, all of this could be avoided altogether if people just would NOT buy tickets to something that is this idiotic. I mean, if no one buys tickets, then idiots like this guy will do what? That is correct. They will go away. (The other thing people could do is not be so damn eager to parade around on a stage without any clothes but with a Mickey Mouse mask on.) But do people still buy tickets? Of course they do! They buy LOTS of tickets! And do people still continue to audition for parts such as "Hot Pink Hitler" "Naked Uncle Sam"? Of course they do! So does that mean that things like this will keep happening? Of course they will! And that's when we find ourselves getting stuck with a "A Masked Ball - The Jerry Springer Years" set amid WTC ruins with adult and naked Mouseketeers cavorting about the stage.

Just say no.

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