Wednesday, 19 December 2007
Castorf´s Meistersinger at Volksbuehne Berlin
Meistersinger, Volksbuehne Berlin, December 16th (more information here)
From the outside, the massive, towering Volksbuehne Berlin at the Rosa-Luxembourg Platz looks like the ultimate neoclassical theater. However, as soon as you´re inside and greeted by staff wearing t-shirts with supposedly printed socialist symbols, reading the posters "we are all terrorists" or watching a black-white movie in the small cinema in the foyer (!) you realize, that this is not anymore the ultimate conservative East Berlin theater it was undoubtedly built to be during the Cold War.
Tonight's production is not what you´d ordinarily call a production of Wagner´s opera "Meistersinger". It is an arrangement of Meistersinger for piano and 5 woodwinds with one opera singer (playing Wather v Stolzing) and the rest of the cast being played by actors. Created by Intendant of the Volksbuehne Berlin since 1992, Frank Castorf, by long (in)famous for his deconstruction of classic pieces with the stated aim "to destroy the unidimensional, to disrupt the meanings...". Scenography by the young german artist Jonathan Meese.
As a staging of Wagner´s "Meistersinger" it is of course radical to have Hans Sachs pumping milk out of a wooden cow and splashing it around stage while 2-3 others run around screaming at some other people in a car shooting at random bypassers. While a guy is shouting next to the piano and another one jumps into the orchestral pit. And it is funny at points, but ultimately the whole thing seemed a bit tedious: The unexpected in a way becomes expected. And, considering, this is a theater piece, it is not really that shocking. In theory, it may not be such a bad idea to deconstruct a piece to build something new. And Castort definitely deconstructs the Meistersinger. I just don´t see what he is building or what the main purpose of the staging is. But of course it frees the Meistersinger from any association with medieval Nürnberg, cosy cobblers or the Nazi rallies in the 1930´s.
Below inserted a youtube video with clips from this production, which much better than words illustrates exactly what this production is about: