(9) Verdi himself has moved Ballo in Maschera from Sweden to Boston: why should a director not move this opera to the Russian mafia milieu?

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 eighth one.

“Verdi’s expressions were always limited by the interference of censorship.”

“Verdi himself has moved Ballo in Maschera from Sweden to Boston:
why should a director not move this opera to the Russian mafia milieu?”

Quod licet Iovi, non licet bovi. A Latin phrase, literally “What is permissible for Jupiter may not be permissible for a bull”. Needless to say, that Jupiter stands for Verdi, and that the role of bull is ideally suited to the “Modern, Ground-breaking Director”. But seriously: Sad enough, Verdi’s expressions were often limited by the interference of censorship. How would Rigoletto have looked, if the Jester would have been at the French Court and not, as we know him, in Mantova? Macbeth, Don Carlo(s), La Forza and Simon Boccanegra have been thoroughly revised by Verdi. The   relocation of Ballo from Sweden to Boston was part of a careful creative process. Verdi knew exactly where a work was supposed to take place. In any case, the Russian mafia has nothing to do with Ballo, just as the Planet of the Apes has nothing to do with Rigoletto. Do not let the Bull become Jupiter!

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Olivier Keegel


Chief Editor 2019-2024. Now reviewer. Does not need much more than Verdi, Bellini and Donizetti. Wishes to resuscitate Tito Schipa and Fritz Wunderlich. Certified unmasker of directors' humbug.

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Ad Middendorp
Ad Middendorp
1 year ago

Or even better: Still haunts him in his grave

Ad Middendorp
Ad Middendorp
1 year ago

Verdi was a goodfella
and he wrote his music brave
But Satan’s evil production trash
has frightened him into his grave

(How’s that for a libretto?)