Saturday, February 4, 2006

Alban Berg's Lulu

I recently viewed a DVD of Alban Berg's opera, Lulu. I want to recommend it, as I think this production is truly exceptional! Previously, I had seen one live production of this opera (in San Francisco a few years back), heard one on the radio (a Metropolitan Opera broadcast), and listened to a couple I have on CD. This is my favorite Lulu, by far.

Based on a pair of once banned plays by Frank Wedekind (the same source material that G.W. Pabst drew on for his 1929 film starring Louise Brooks), Alban Berg's operatic swansong charts the rise and fall of a femme fatale - Lulu. With its intense, and at times beautiful and harsh score, this is one of the great operatic masterpieces of the 20th century. This subtitled production by the Glyndebourne Festival Opera stars Christine Schafer, Kathryn Harries, and Wolfgang Schone. Andrew Davis conducted the London Philharmonic.

Schafer, who sings the role of Lulu, is especially appealing. (She has short hair, but does not evoke Brooks' appearance.) I really enjoyed watching her. And the staging of the opera was brilliant. Minimal, but sophisticated in many ways. To have to see it to know what I mean. This production won the 1997 Gramaphone Award for Best Video. If you have ever wanted to check out a production of Lulu, I would recommend this.

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