“Zehn Mädchen und kein Mann”: Early Franz von Suppé In Hannover

Kevin Clarke
Operetta Research Center
31 May, 2015

The girls are at it, again. Yes, the students of the Hannover Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien are tackling operetta once more, and this time round they’ve set their sights on Franz von Suppé and an early “original” Viennese title: Zehn Mädchen und kein Mann. From the end of June onwards, you can see Suppé’s “kinky girls” show in a production by Kornelia Repschläger and her troupe of ‘fearless blondes.’

Franz von Suppé, in 1885.

Franz von Suppé, in 1885.

Miss Reschläger has staged highly erotic versions of Offenbach one-act opéra bouffes in the past (among them a truly dazzling Daphnis). Now, she is going for an all-girl version of this 1862 Suppé pioneering work. It’s also a one-act show that follows directly in the footsteps of the great Jacques. The story is as hilarious and surreal as the Paris originals:

The elderly land owner, Mr. von Schönthan, is a multiple-widower who wants to marry his hot housekeeper Sidonia (Marlene Gaßner); but she’s in love with the attractive young veterinarian Agamemnon Paris (Uwe Gottswinter). Schönthal’s first wife left him, dissapearing with their son years ago. He now has ten daughters from his next marriages. Schönthal wants to wed them all off, the sooner the better. (o be free for Sidonia.) To increase the market value of his offsprings, Schönthal had every girl brought up in the customs of a different country. He now puts posters up all over town to alert unmarried men, inviting them onto his estate to have a look-around on his “extra-virgin” meat market.

The vet, Agamenmnon Paris, uses this “open door” opportunity to secretly visit his beloved Sidonia. But Schönthan catches the young man and insists that he meet the daughters. They each present themselves with music from their “homeland”: a British air, an Italian aria … Such high-brow music makes the visitor fall asleep immediately. Dances follow (Spanish etc.). But Agamemnon remains unmoved, he only wants Sidonia.

Poster for the 2015 production of "Zehn Mädchen und kein Mann."

Poster for the 2015 production of “Zehn Mädchen und kein Mann.”

The infuriated Schönthal quizzes Agamemnon to find out why he is so stubborn. It turns out – in an operetta twist of fate – that the young man is the long-lost son of our landlord. Which also makes him the brother of the ten girls line-up. So what can you do? Resignedly, Schönthal gives his permission for Agamemnon to marry the housekeeper. Being still stuck with his ten daughters, all singing, all dancing, he exclaims: “Now I have eleven daughters and only one man.” (That one man might have a hard time keeping all those girls busy, in true operetta fashion.)

Since the current group of musical theater students in Hannover is predominately female, a show such as this Suppé title is ideal for Miss Repschläger. Also, the variety of musical styles found in the score (Italian arias etc.) make it perfect teaching material. Miss Repschläger said in an interview with ORCA: “You learn timing, humor, and flexibility of voice and body with such an operetta. There is no awe towards a great masterpiece that might stop you having fun; the students feel free and can explore their spontaneity, also in terms of interacting with one another.” She adds: “Because we have so many female students this year, we have hightened the fun by turning the head of the family, Mr. Schönthal, into a cross-dressed role, played by Melissa Wedekind.” Which should give an extra twist to the love affair with Sidonia. Again, true to authentic operetta tradition of the 1860s. The other girls are: Korolina Eurich, Judith Hilgers, Gabriella Page, Iryna Dziashko, Ylva Stenberg, Michelle Neupert, Anna Mengel, Urszula Cichocka, Martyna Cymerman, Melissa Wedekind (in a double-role).

There are four performances until 3 July in Hannover. For further details, cast and performance dates, click here.





There is one comment

  1. Dario Salvi

    Hello Kevin, could you put us in contact! They might be interested in staging A Trip To Africa too!