The World’s First Queer Operetta Is Coming To BKA

Kevin Clarke
Operetta Research Center
11 August, 2021

The BKA Theater (Berliner Kabarett Anstalt) just announced that “the world’s first queer operetta” will premiere on 6 October, 2021, presenting “a contemporary gay love story in three-quarter time.”

The poster for the 2021 production of "Operette für zwei schwule Tenöre." (Photo: BKA)

The poster for the 2021 production of “Operette für zwei schwule Tenöre.” (Photo: BKA)

The show is called Operette für zwei schwule Tenöre, i.e. an operetta for two gay tenors, based on a libretto by Johannes Kram and with music by Florian Ludwig. There are performances from 7 to 10 October, and from 13 to 17 October.

The official press release states: “With the world-premiere of Operette für zwei schwule Tenöre Berlin’s BKA Theater celebrates the re-birth of ‘Berlin Operetta’ as a genre that already questioned gender conventions back in the 1920s, glorified diversity and shaped the image of Berlin in the world. 100 years later, Operette für zwei schwule Tenöre continues that tradition: it’s the world’s first operetta with a central queer plot.”

The world’s first operetta with a gay character – if you don’t count Bunthorne in Patience – was The Beastly Bombing with Nitzberg/Neill in 2006 which premiered in Los Angeles and went to Amsterdam in 2009.

A scene from the original production of "The Beastly Bombing." (Photo: Kim Gottlieb Walker)

A scene from the original production of “The Beastly Bombing.” (Photo: Kim Gottlieb Walker)

The press release further states: “The show tells the emotional, modern, funny, yet touching story of gay life between love and sex, pride and self-doubt, unfolding between country idyll and big city scenes. At the core of this theatrical experience are 16 songs written in the style of ‘Golden Operetta’ newly imagined as sweeping waltzes and bouncy songs, such as ‘Champagner von Aldi’ and ‘Mein Fetisch ist die Operette,’ ‘Wann fahr’n wir wieder zu Ikea?,’ and ‘Liebe Grüße aus Berlin!’” The latter a nod to Paul Lincke, with the line: “Hier bin ich heute Nacht König und morgen früh Queen.”

Author Johanns Kram stages the show himself, together with Marco Krämer-Eis. Composer Florian Ludewig conducts the orchestral arrangements by Martin Rosengarten.

The soloists are Felix Heller as “Jan” and Ricardo Frenzel Baudisch as “Tobi”. Frenzel Baudisch is probably known to many operetta aficionados from his various productions at Baden near Wien, including this summer’s Nacht in Venedig at the Sommerarena. You can hear both tenors with “Ich steh total auf Jens Riewa” in a short video clip that was released this week.

Florian Ludewig is familiar to Berlin audiences as the composer and pianist of “Malediva,” he’s also part of the pop cabaret duo “Korff/Ludewig.”

Dramatist Johannes Kram, on the other hand, is known for his Nollendorfblog and QUEERKRAM podcast which recently received a Grimme Online Award in the category “Kultur und Unterhaltung.”

There’s also a male chorus commenting on the action, it’s cast exclusively with queer singers.

On 24 August, 2021, at 11.30 am the ensemble will present highlights from the show at BKA to the press.

The first public reading of the show took place at Schwules Museum in the context of a Siegfried Wagner exhibition. The show’s big hit “Ein Liebeslied von Mann zu Mann“ was recorded back then and turned into an emotionally stirring little video by the museum.

For more information, tickets and performances dates, click here.