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Demetz's music is like one long skein -- dark, mysterious, sometimes forbiddingly grim -- and it matches, if only partly successfully, the sequence of visions which pass before Richard's ever more deluded eyes. Above all, it embraces the world of childhood : many of the props engineered by designer Bettina Munzer and her colleague Julia Libiseller are elements of childhood : a bucket and spade, swimwear, a teddy bear, a watering can. The whole sequence seems to be a kind of abacus of childhood : though whether it is merely a Kinderlied (child's song) as Mab characterises it, or rather Kinderleid ('Childhood angst') is a matter for speculation.

A scene from the Tiroler Landes Theater 2002 production of Häftling von Mab. Photo: Rupert Larl


On the whole, I found Norbert Mladek's production rather satisfying, albeit more in retrospect than at the time : the imagery seemed sharp and well-defined, even if the accumulative effect was not so clear. Some moves were beautifully set up; others were rather lacklustre, one apparently deliberately : Adalbert Waller, the distinguished king from Innsbruck's recent production of the Reimann opera Lear (they stage Reimann's Ghost Sonata next season) seemed the most wishy washy of the characters, forever moping in and out like a wispy Charon without much of a defined role (though that was perhaps precisely his role). By contrast the ubiquitous mother and son, a strangely ghoulish duo aptly lending the feel of a Picasso blue period desolate family group, were mesmerising : Mladek seemed to choreograph their eerie appearances (often out of nowhere) to perfection; Marion and Marcel Hauser must have been as effectively grisly a pair (their faces like wagging skulls) as writer Händl Klaus could have hoped for.

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Copyright © 14 April 2002 Roderic Dunnett, Athens, Greece





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