Out of the Shadows

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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