Friday 19 October 2012


Louise Brooks
Some projects you read about and simply wonder why? Why would they want to do that and who on earth thought it would be a good idea. As part of the Young Vic's 2012/13 season, there are details of American Lulu which is being performed there in September 2013. A co-production with the Opera Group, Bregenz and Scottish Opera in association with the London Sinfonietta, it promises to be a version of Berg's Lulu set in New Orleans. But not Berg as we know it; we are promised a 'radical reworking of Berg's unfinished opera', composed by Olga Neuwirth and directed by John Fulljames. Oh dear.

I can understand the desire to perform Lulu and also to, perhaps, create a smaller scale version of the opera capable of touring. It might also, from a directorial point of view, be interesting to transpose it to New Orleans, though I'm not sure whether the 'smoky jazz-clubs of the Deep South' are really relevant to Wedekind or to the opera's essential story. But why, oh why, do we have to have a radical re-working. By all means ask Neuwirth to do a new orchestration and perhaps an alternative completion. But because Berg left the score unfinished, does not give us license to mess it about; his surviving sketches are pretty clear on what he wanted.

I realise that I am, to a certain extent, pre-judging and that we can't work out what American Lulu will be like till we see it. More details from the Young Vic website.

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