Zazà at Theater an der Wien

A new production of the Theater an der Wien. Premiere on 16 September 2020: Leoncavallo’s Zazà, a “commedia lirica” in four acts from 1919, on a libretto by Ruggero Leoncavallo and Carlo Zangarini. Performances on 16, 18, 21, 23, 25 and 27 September 2020, 7 pm. Introduction: Sunday 13 September 2020, 11 a.m. For information click HIER.

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Zazà: Svetlana Aksenova
Milio Dufresne: Nikolai Schukoff
Cascart: Christopher Maltman
Floriana / Signora Dufresne: Dorothea Herbert
Anaide, Zazàs mother: Enkelejda Shkosa
Natalia, Zazàs maid: Juliette Mars
Bussy, Journalist: Tobias Greenhalgh
Courtois, Impresario: Erik Årman
Duclou, Regisseur: Dumitru Madarasan
Marco / Augusto: Johannes Bamberger
Totò Dufresne: Livia Gallenga / Vittoria Antonuzzo

ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien
Arnold Schoenberg Chor

Conductor: Stefan Soltész
Director: Christof Loy

The grass is always greener on the other side

Zazà is the popular star of the variety theatre Alcazar in St. Etienne. All the men are at her feet, only the Parisian businessman Milio Dufresne seems more charmed by her rival Floriana. The grass is always greener with the neighbour and so Zazà wants to conquer Dufresne. She bets journalist Bussy that Dufresne will surrender in no time. Must be easy peasy japanesey, because Dufresne covets Zazà, but he doesn’t feel so confident and is also afraid of his good name. His worries disappear like snow in the sun when Zazà uses her charm offensive. The two become a couple.

Above: Denia Mazzola als Zazà. Teatro Massimo di Palermo, 1995.

Of course, that’s gonna end badly. Zazà is seriously falling in love with Milio Dufresne. Not a good idea. Cascart, her colleague and ex-lover, tells her he saw Dufresne in Paris with another woman. In a frenzy, Zazà sets out for Paris and invades Dufresne’s apartment to “get to know” her competitor.

Svetlana Aksenova, here as Tatjana (Eugene Onegin).

In the house she finds a little girl. So the case is worse than she thought?! Not really, because this is only Dufresne’s daughter, Totò. The little one tells Zazà about her mother and about the plans to move with the family to America soon. Carefully Zazà brings the news that Dufresne is married to her too. So the rascal Milio Dufresne has lied about his marital status.

And then things become complicated. Mrs. Dufresne is coming home. Zazà acts like she got the wrong address and gets away. She doesn’t want to stand in the way of this family’s happiness; she realizes her own sad fate and doesn’t want to do this to little Totò. The tender-mindedness of a variety artist…

Her own destiny, what was it, actually? Well, a typical case of “broken family!” Zazà’s father had abandoned her mother Anaide, whereupon mother lost the battle to the alcohol devil. When Zazà meets Dufresne again, she ends the relationship. He finally reveals his true marital status. Zazà doesn’t even have a happy memory of her relationship with Dufresne. Romantic love? My foot!

She accepts the inevitable that is her life as a variety star.

©Theater an der Wien

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Olivier Keegel


Chief Editor since 2019. 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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