Operetta Research Center
5 April, 2016
Now it’s official: the Komische Oper Berlin has announced that next season the world will have a close encounter of the third kind with Oscar Straus’ Die Perlen der Cleopatra (1923). This dazzling and ultra-kinky show, written for Fritzi Massary originally, will be staged by Barrie Kosky himself (yeah!), it will star Dagmar Manzel as the lusty queen of the Nile (double yeah!), and it will be conducted by Adam Benzwi (triple yeah!).
Also on board is Dominique Horwitz as Minister Pampylus. Which should allow for some funny interaction. But of course, the more interesting question is – after all these breathtaking casting news – who will play Marc Anthony? He’s the one Cleopatra sings one of the score’s craziest love songs to: “Ach Anton steck den Degen ein, komm lass’ ihn in der Scheide.” (You might need to speak German to understand the sexual innuendo here.) The role of Marc Anthony was originally sung by Richard Tauber in Vienna, later by Hans Albers in Berlin. To great success. In the new version, Peter Renz will take on this role… which will shift the emphasis of the show decidedly elsewhere, as Renz is neither vocally nor physically someone comparable to either Tauber or Albers.
On a more positive side, Johannes Dunz (four times yeah!) gets another chance to shine in a premiere, he’ll be Beladonis, Prince of Syria – causing chaos with his much serenaded “flute for love”. And butch Dominik Köninger will play Silvius, a Roman officer. I should say, this is bound to be hilarious, and sizzlingly hot. Barihunks meeting operetta is always a welcome event.
Opening night is December 3, 2016. With this show, Kosky continues his Oscar Straus revival project, but it is also a revival of works written by Brammer and Grünwald, the latter also wrote Eine Frau, die weiß was sie will. Together, Brammer and Grünwald they penned Gräfin Mariza (1924), so that might return to Berlin too, one day. It was originally seen in Berlin at the Metropoltheater, which now is the Komische Oper.
Talking of Kalman: later in December, there will be two concert performances of his 1945 Broadway hit “Marinka”, for the first time in Germany and in a new version.
Koen Schoots will conduct, the man who made quite an impression with Kiss Me, Kate (and less of an impression with Im weißen Rössl and West Side Story.) Johannes Dunz will get yet another chance to dazzle as crown prince Rudolph of Habsburg. (Five times yeah!) His love interest Marinka is Viennese soprano Ruth Brauer-Kvam. Dutch baritone Peter Bording returns to the Komische Oper as taxi driver “Bratfisch.” He gets to sing one of the hits of the show, the famous “Cab Song.” But he also sings “Old Man Danubue,” an interesting alternative to “Ol’ Man River”.
There will be only two performances, on December 18 and 30.
With all the other glorious operetta titles in the repertoire, this is certainly a reason to celebrate and to look forward to the new season! (Thank you, Barrie!)