The Giacomo Variations

The Giacomo Variations is a play/opera devised by Michael Sturminger [German], featuring the music from operas by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Lorenzo Da Ponte. It stars John Malkovich, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, Martene Grimson* and Andrei Bondarenko*.

Giacomo Casanova (John Malkovich) reminisces about his life. He gets a visit from Elisa von der Recke (Ingeborga Dapkunaite), who becomes his woman of the moment, while she tries to get a look at his memoirs. So we start hearing about Casanova’s life little by little, helped by the music from Cosi Fan Tutte, Don Giovanni and Le Nozze Di Figaro.

The Giacomo Variations builds from a good idea and has a good cast. Unfortunately, its director is not that good and the cast, albeit good actors, were wrong for the play. Or the play was wrong for them – whichever way you want to see it.

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Tanz der Vampire (Dance of the Vampires)

Dance of the Vampires is a musical based on the Roman Polanski movie of the same name. It was written by Jim Steinman (music) and Michael Kunze (book).

Professor Abronsius (Gernot Kranner) travels with his young assistant Alfred (Lukas Perman) to find Vampires. They end up in a remote village, which is strangely obsessed with garlic. They stay at the inn, where Alfred falls in love with Sarah (Marjan Shaki). Sarah likes him, too, but her heart is set on bigger things. Therefore she isn’t really unhappy from the attention she gets from the mysterious Graf von Krolock (Thomas Borchert). And things only go downhill from there.

Dance of the Vampires is an awesome mix of comedy and kitsch – it doesn’t play with all the Vampire stereotypes, it revels in them. The music is awesome (even if mostly recycled from previous Steinman works) and this particular production isn’t bad either.

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The Infernal Comedy

[In case you were wondering, we’re now at the beginning of July with my reviews. ;)]

The Infernal Comedy is a play written by Michael Sturminger [German] about Jack Unterweger, famous serial killer and society guy. It stars John Malkovich.

Jack Unterweger (John Malkovich) is in hell, where he does a reading of his autobiography to an eclectic audience (us). With him, there are two singers (Laura Aikin and Aleksandra Zamojska) who play the various women in his life, while performing – with an orchestra – various arias from different operas.
[You can read the entire script at the homepage I linked to above.]

It’s an awesome play, capturing the fascination Unterweger had on Vienna’s high society (especially the women) as much as the gruesome murders he committed. Despite the dire topic, it has some really good laughs and the music is very well chosen.

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Political Uncorrectness

Yesterday, I actually got my last birthday present this year (or at least I think it was the last one, who knows): L. invited me to see The Producers in the Ronacher, one of the traditional Viennese (Musical) Theatres. [It’s just been restored and is absolutely amazing. Very well done.]

I loved the 2005 movie, but unfortunaltely have never seen the 1968 one. Although I’m pretty sure that I would love that one as well. I’m a sucker for Mel Brooks.

Anyway, back to the show. They translated the songs to German for that production, which I find extremely unnecessary, but I guess not everybody in Austria would be comfortable with English lyrics. The translation wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t as good as the original. [And they had to leave out my favourite joke, because you simply can’t translate it to German. (“Quick, honey, get back into the closet!”)]

Also, and that is rather embarassing, I think: the sound quality was bad. So bad that I sometimes had difficulties understanding what they were singing.

They put on a solid show, with good acting and singing, a really cool stage design and a lot of laughs. But when I want to see it again, I’ll just get the movie.