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Wozzeck's (the American Dale Duesing) first tormenter is the pot-bellied captain of Dieter Bundschuh, whom he must shave every day. With his moral sense kindling towards a sort of gavotte, the captain upbraids his barber with having produced a child without blessing from the church [watch and listen -- chapter 3, 4:52-6:05]. As Marie, emotionally susceptible and unstable, Kristine Ciesinski tries her ineffective best to calm Wozzeck out of irrational fears and strange visions that torment him [watch and listen -- chapter 10, 22:30-23:41]. Their little boy is in attendance, understanding nothing and expressionless.

From left to right: The Doctor (Frode Olsen), Wozzeck (Dale Duesing) and the Captain (Dieter Bundschuh). DVD screenshot © 1996 ZDF
From left to right: The Doctor (Frode Olsen), Wozzeck (Dale Duesing) and the Captain (Dieter Bundschuh). DVD screenshot © 1996 ZDF

Coming from a medical family and indeed a doctor himself, Georg Büchner is merciless to his stage quack. In this production, Frode Olsen's doctor cavorts round his consulting room like a demented magician, while the increasingly distressed Wozzeck shins up a psychological cone that dominates the surgery to find ever-diminishing comfort as he approaches the top [watch and listen -- chapter 13, 32:00-33:19]. Marie's undoing will be Ronald Hamilton's drum-major, a burly figure who at once excites her and in no time has his arms about her [watch and listen -- chapter 15, 35:08-36:21]. Her fate is sealed when Wozzeck sees them executing a seedy little waltz in a tavern garden [watch and listen -- chapter 25, 62:13-63:19].

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Copyright © 26 July 2006 Robert Anderson, London UK

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'Elgar and Chivalry' by Robert Anderson - available now from Elgar.org