Much has been written about the historical backgrounds of the Regietheater in opera, also in Opera Gazet. We can deal with historical explanations exhaustively as much as we like, but in the meantime we are stuck with it: the drifting Regietrash constantly flows through the sewers of European opera houses, the handkerchief with eau-de-cologne can no longer compete with it.
The Regietheater is an evil and malignant phenomenon that has been able to take hold without encountering any significant opposition. People will look in vain for intellectual justification. Regietrash is an expression of a so-called “modern sense of life”, a cherished gem in the cultural baggage of Today’s People; if you don’t surrender to it, you belong to a fossil generation that polishes its 78 rpm records every week and with melancholy look at the signed photo of Magda Olivero hanging on the wall.
There is no well-drafted story with reasons why a libretto does not need to be respected. One gets no further than nonsensical one-liners. The fallacies with which Johnny Modern tries to justify the Entführung aus dem Serail placed in a brothel have long been known. There is a kind of top-50. We have listed 10 of them. Here is the second one.
Opera is more than just beautiful pictures
This is where we must appeal to the argumentation theory. Lovers of libretto opera are being attacked here on a claim they have never made. No opera lover with a sane mind has ever claimed “Opera, that is nothing more than beautiful pictures”. The fact that Regietheater-adepts must make use of such fallacies is due to their lack of real arguments. Moreover, they profile themselves as intellectually superior to the supposedly “beautiful pictures viewers”. Not that there is anything against “beautiful pictures” in opera. The greatest opera director of all time, Franco Zeffirelli, has convincingly demonstrated this with his wonderful, breath-taking productions. So, yes, an opera is indeed much more than beautiful pictures. It is music. Singing. One can perform opera even without staging, but one cannot do so without singers. We advise Regietheater adepts to focus more on listening instead of seeing.
Additionally, no one asks for Florestan’s prison to look beautiful. It is supposed to look like a prison in the 18th Century and not like Guantanamo. Same goes for the refugee camp in Macbeth, needless to say that it is set at the Scottish Border in the 11th century, and not in Kurdistan in 2014. And furthermore, the castle of Count Almaviva is supposed to look beautiful. Even if the French Revolution was just ahead and the days of the Ancien Régime were counted, the Almavivas did certainly not live at a garbage dump.
Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail – directed by Calixto Bieito, Komische Oper, Berlin, 2004