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Gilda with images of the powerful of the past, even the more recent past, was not entirely without merit, but Lazaridis cluttered the stage with so many figures-none of them identifiable beyond the fouth row-it was impossible to understand their possible significance merely by seeing them on stage. Including Don Quixote, a prisoner-of-war, and some unknown street-folk and general social-types among the dummies also confused viewers. Whatever interpretational overtones could have been gained from linking the dwarfish, crippled jester Rigoletto with Chaplin's Tramp were lost when Verdi's hero put on not only the black bowler but also a greatcoat, more appropriate to Napoleon. Nor was the cane right either. Perhaps Russians find swings suggestive of girlish innocence; Americans and Western Europeans -with memories of "The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing" or titillating Folies Bergere revues-instead are apt to find girls singing while aloft in swings merely suggestive. To her credit, the Gilda, Edita Gruberove, did all that Ljubimov asked of her, and more. Despite the mixture of lusty boos and defensive bravos which geeted Ljubimov at the close, the premiere proved -at most critics reported-a solid triumph for both Verdi and Gruberova. She is a splendid singer and a dauntless trouper; the audience admired her vocalism and her willingness to try to make Ljubimov's vision work on stage. Unfortunately, her Rigoletto, virtually a last-minute replacement, was inadequate both as an actor and a singer. His weakness reduced the celebratged "Quartette" in this score to a trio. However ingenious the idea of the swing may initially have seemed to Ljubimov, he erred in having it carry the live Gilda up and down and across the stage. This made it seem like an industrial crane, never more so than at the end, when it was used to transport Gilda's murdered body, hidden in a sack. Viewers laughed, certainly not what Ljubimov had intended. He was to have been available for interviews after the premiere, but instead he departed Florence early the next day, leaving no forwarding address. It was the most exciting premiere the Maggio Musicale has had in years. Theatertreffen Berlin 1984 Bonnie Marranca For years the German theatre has been looked upon as the enviable model of government-subsidized theatre. Surely, it has the biggest budgets of theatre anywhere in the world, its productions display the most lavish use of technical and design effects, by any standards. American artists who've worked in German theatre have often exclaimed that there is more money around than anyone knows what to do with. How to invest it? 77 THE BLACKS But the more troubling aspect of theatre in Germany is the seeming impossibility of any renegade, non-establishment theatre. Instead all activities are dependent upon, nourished and bolstered by the state treasury and central and local cultural policy. Perhaps at a later date the results may be promoted abroad through the programs and funding of the Goethe House. German theatre can have no real rebellious aspect to it even when productions or plays try to be politically radical, as they often are. All theatre that has a cultural impact still occurs in an establishment context, with all the trappings of Culture by a state that absorbs any attack on its structure, be it by Handke, Fassbinder, Hochhuth, Kroetz, MOller, or Peymann. In this context, seeing Genet's The Blacks in a SchaubUhne production directed by Peter Stein, known for his radical interpretations of old and new plays, was much less than provocative. Though not part of the Theatertreffen (a yearly festival of the ten best German productions), it was playing at the same time in Berlin. The whole ambience of going to the SchaubUhne, now that it has moved from the working class district of Kreuzberg to the center of Berlin, is rather like the difference between spending an evening in a comfortable pension or the local exemplar of a hotel chain. There is something to the architecture of feeling. The Blacks seemed absurd in this new Schaubhne home: black drummers entertaining a bourgeois audience before the start of a play by white actors playing blacks playing revolution...


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