Operetta Research Center
3 December, 2020
Putting on Eduard Künneke’s 1920 hit Der Vetter aus Dingsda seemed like a good idea in times of Corona restrictions: snappy music, great story, no chorus, only six soloists, reduced jazz orchestra. Bingo, perfect piece for now. But then… well, you know what happened next. The lockdown for cultural institutions has just been extended in Germany a second (!) time, and as a result Gärtnerplatztheater Munich – as well as so many other theaters in Germany – had to cancel all 2020 performances of their new Vetter which was supposed to premiere on 17 December. The good news is: it will premiere, and we can all watch it online, for free.
The new staging by Lukas Wachernig is being offered as a live stream on 17 December, starting at 7 pm. And the filmed production will then stay online until Sunday, 20 December, at 11 pm. Yippie!
The head dramaturg of the company, and for this production, Michael Alexander Rinz said to Operetta Research Center: “You may look forward to a bright and boisterous new staging of Vetter aus Dingsda, filmed live at our theater. Despite the current hygiene restrictions we promise perfect entertainment and transport the story forward to the Sixties, keeping the dancing, the speed and the fun intact. Which is exactly what we need most these days.”
The persons in charge of the music are conductors Andreas Kowalewitz and Andreas Partilla, Judith Spießer gets to sing “Strahlender Mond” while dreaming of her far-away lover Roderich in Batavia. While her real-life love interest will be played by the company’s strapping young operetta star Maximilian Mayer who we already interviewed and presented after he made such a splash in Straus’s Der tapfere Soldat. (Read the interview here.)
The other “strapping” male lead is played by Daniel Gutmann as Egon von Wildenhagen – a rather unsympathetic role, because he schemes to marry Julia for her money, but without the charm of the fake-Roderich (i.e. August Kuhbrot played by Mr. Mayer). It will be interesting to see how these two gentlemen compete for the affection of the young heiress in their different ways.
Since Mr. Gutmann posted regularly on the progress of this production on Instagram and drew our attention to the fact that the premiere might be streamed, before the theater itself officially confirmed this, we asked the baritone about his personal operetta track record and about what he likes about the new Vetter. He reminded us that this will not be his first operetta outing, he already sang Dr. Falke in Fledermaus last year in a Swiss summer production, as well as Josef in Wiener Blut at Gärtnerplatz. There, he will return to the genre after Vetter with Kalman’s Faschingsfee next year, Corona permitting. (Who can tell?)
So here’s Mr. Gutmann’s statement about the upcoming Künneke: “The new Vetter production is especially fun for me because it challenges me as an actor, the character of Egon is unusual in many ways and has various eccentricities. On the whole, this staging will be very colorful and extravagant. I think that’s fabulous. But I’m aware that not everyone will like it. Since you can’t really take the libretto seriously 100 years later – e.g. because of the sexist way the characters are mapped out and interact – we have moved the action forward to the 1960s/70s. We don’t want to play down the controversial aspects of the libretto, instead we are addressing them head on and we even exaggerate them. You’ll either love it, or hate it!”
The Austrian “love/hate” director Lukas Wachernig studied at University of Vienna. He has been with the Gärtnerplatz company since 2014, working as assistant to Josef E. Köpplinger, Nicole Claudia Weber, Thomas Hermanns, Torsten Fischer und Peter Konwitschny in the past. This Vetter aus Dingsda is his „Regiedebüt“ at Gärtnerplatz.
Considering this online treat from Munich it’s double painful that Komische Oper Berlin will not offer their Christmas operetta Blume von Hawaii as a live stream. Instead, they have cancelled the semi-staged concert performance altogether. Which makes Berlin look surprisingly backwards in terms of Digital Operetta 2.0. They will offer a December “Sweet Streams” program, but none of their older operetta hits is included, and nothing novel either.