maanantai 3. lokakuuta 2011

Tanz der Vampire - 10th Anniversary Concerts, Vienna 2007

I saw three of the Tanz der Vampire 10th Anniversary Concerts in Vienna in 2007, first on Sunday Feb 4th and then on Thursday 8th and Friday 9th.

The concert was about 1,5 hours long. They sang the most important songs and practically had no dialogue at all, though the plot was still logical and easy to follow even if you didn't know the story. The sets were quite minimal, the orchestra was in the middle of the stage and behind it was kind of a platform with stairs on both sides of the orchestra. They also had two simple doorframes, which later served as frames of the library, an open (rather coffin-like…) box which was used as the bathtub, and a closed box as a bed, bench, etc., and some pillows and blankets. All in all very simple, but it just proved that when the cast is fabulous, you don't need big and fancy sets to create the atmosphere. Most of the time I didn't even notice the orchestra, though it occupied half of the stage, I just stared at the actors. They did have some problems with microphones, especially in the Knoblauch scene on Sunday, and it seemed that Marjan Shaki’s (Sarah) mic was always a bit too loud, probably because otherwise her voice would have been drowned under Thomas Borchert's (Count von Krolock) voice.

After Ouverture and He Ho Professor came a very short version of Knoblauch, and Chagal (Thomas Bayer) led Professor Abronsius (Gernot Kranner) and Alfred (Lukas Perman) to their room and presented the bathroom with Sarah, and after that Chagal sang Eine schöne Tochter ist ein Segen. Then came Nie geseh'n, sung only by Sarah and Alfred with their candles and dreamy walking and so on. In Gott ist tot, lots of identical vampires in black cloaks came to stage with their backs turned to the audience, and you couldn't see which one of them was Krolock until he turned and the lights concentrated on him. A really nice effect. After that Chagal, Magda (Suzanne Carey) and Rebecca (Tina Schöltzke) sang Alles ist hell, Professor and Alfred came to stage and Professor began to sing Wahrheit without any dialogue about Koukol in between. In fact, there wasn't any Koukol in the concert, and the part where Abronsius refers to "the servant of the count" in Wahrheit was explained by an ensemble vampire coming to stage and dropping a log when Abronsius sang the high note of Wahrheit. :)

In Einladung zum Ball the "Krolock" was standing in the box in the first balcony (wish I had sat there!), but otherwise that, Draussen ist Freiheit and Stärker als wir sind / Die roten Stiefel were pretty normal, though I've never seen any Sarah cry during the prayers. It was a nice touch, since after that you could really see her gathering her strength and making the decision of going to the castle. Chagal didn't run after Sarah, there was just one vampire who laid him down on the bench and covered him with a sheet, when Magda sang Tot zu sein ist komisch. In the end of the song she walked offstage and Chagal sneaked after her with his teeth revealed, so we never saw the actual biting part.

The vampire choir in the beginning of Vor dem Schloss made me crack up. The rhythm was something like jazz or swing, and the black-dressed vampires walked across the stage in line, dancing in the same jazz/swing style. Every time the Professor and Alfred turned around to look at them suspiciously, the vampires froze and stopped singing and continued again when they turned away. It was brilliant and looked and sounded absolutely hilarious! Vor dem Schloss was quite short, just the dialogue between the Professor and Krolock, and Herbert (Tim Reichwein) coming to stage, and when Abronsius followed him offstage, Krolock sang the "Vertrau mir / Im Traumland der Nacht" part to Alfred. Borchert’s facial impressions during the dialogue were great, and when he turned away in the end of the song, for a moment it looked like he would bite Caspar Richter (the conductor) who was right behind him.

Totale Finsternis was wonderful, probably the best performance I’ve ever seen. In Carpe Noctem they had the dance solo right after the "Folg mir nach, vertrau die Nacht" part, and it was the real Alfred who danced with the black vampire and "Sarah". In the end Herbert and Magda dragged him next to the wall, where he slowly recovered and started to sing Für Sarah. When he finished, the Professor came on stage, sang Bücher, Bücher and gave Alfred the small book with advice for lovers, which he began to read. Then he heard singing and found Herbert in the bathtub. The choreography of the scene was great. Herbert pushed Alfred to the bathtub, stood on the edge of the tub and sang "Ja, heut' Nacht ist Ball, ich lad' dich ein" in completely same position as Krolock sings Einladung zum Ball for Sarah. Also the walz was slightly different, and in the end of the scene Herbert chased Alfred offstage and a couple of seconds later Alfred jumped / was pushed onstage again. ;) He asked the professor in panic "Sind wir hier sicher?" and Krolock appeared on the platform behind the orchestra to sing "Sie irren, Professor!".

Ewigkeit and Unstillbare Gier were normally made, though Gier with little shortening. In Tanzsaal it was the real Krolock who was singing in the box on the first balcony, without his cape (<3). I've heard Borchert sing "Ist ein Jahr mager, wird das nächste Jahr reich!" and "Haben wir je davon genug?" with his own little melody before, but now they had apparently decided to put also the ball guests to answer in the same melody, which sounded really nice. When Sarah came onstage, Krolock disappeared from the balcony and appeared a moment later on stage (I was so nervous that he wouldn’t make it in time…) and bit Sarah. Finally in the end of the reprise of Totale Finsternis only Krolock and Sarah were on stage, Krolock still without his cape and Sarah lying on the ground. Krolock left her there and Alfred came to look after her and they sang Draussen ist Freiheit and so on, and then the professor came to sing "Wir sind entkommen, etc." and the final scene began. I'm not a big fan of the original choreography, it seems a bit too scattered with so many vampires on stage, but now it looked really nice with a smaller ensemble. The bows began in the middle of the song with the ensemble still dancing in the background, and the "rap" part was sung by everyone. I've never seen Krolock, Abronsius or any of the main characters rocking together on stage, but now they did. Krolock kicked Alfred's butt when they were bouncing around. :P At that point the atmosphere was unbelievable, they had so much fun on stage and the audience was screaming and clapping and… It was heaven.

 Copyright VBW

The costumes were from the Polish production, they were a bit simpler than the original ones but very pretty anyway. Especially I liked Sarah's ball gown, Herbert's shirt and some of the Ewigkeit dresses, though I still don't understand the vampire with scattered wings and a leopard-spotted, caveman-like cloaky thing. I've always loved the lady with the ship in her hairdo, and it was nice to see it live. Only Krolock had a completely new costume, and what a costume! It was the most gorgeous one I've ever seen, with just a few small changes in the cut when compared to the original Vienna/German costume, but they made the count look perfect. I must mention the trousers; they didn't look like someone had stuffed them with several pairs of socks (like for example Mathias Edenborn in Berlin), which is the biggest problem for me in the costumes of the German productions. Yes, Krolock has some erotic aspects, but I think the impression should come from something else than highlighting his *cough* lower body parts and making him look like an eager B-class porn star. Now he had perfectly normally cut trousers, and he looked better (and hotter) than any of the counts I've seen before. Borchert didn't have a cloak in Tanzsaal so you could see the dress coat really well, and also that was the most beautiful I've seen this far. I worship the costume designer.

The cast:

Mostly very good. First of all, Thomas Borchert. I saw him as Krolock in Hamburg in summer 2005 and thought he was really good, my favourite count after Steve Barton, but nevertheless some things in his count disturbed me, like the sarcasm in Unstillbare Gier and certain coldness and lack of emotions in some scenes. The change between the Krolock in Hamburg and in Vienna was bigger than I could have ever believed; now he was simply perfect. Alive, having so much fun, rocking the house, almost like a rock star giving his all in a concert. I've always liked his voice, but in the concerts he sang much better than I had ever thought, lower and with more feelings, and still he had some very funny moments especially during Vor dem Schloss. You could hear the emotions of the lyrics in his voice and see them in his face. Thomas Borchert may not like his fans that much, he may be distant when not on stage, but he's one of the best actors and singers I've seen and heard. And very nice to watch, I admit. ;) I have never before or after that seen him act so well, he was on fire every time he stepped onto the stage.

Gernot Kranner as Abronsius, then… Well, what can I say? He *is* Abronsius, definitely the best professor I've ever seen. He was hilarious, I enjoyed every little gesture, tone, every facial impression he made, and of course his singing. I don't know who got bigger applauds, he or Borchert. His Abronsius was visibly flattered by all the screams and applauds of the fans, which looked really cute, and his Wahrheit and Bücher, Bücher! were incredible. All in all, brilliant. Later in the Vienna revival he got a bit too old and silly for my taste, but here he gave one of the best performances I've seen from any Abronsius.

I had my prejudices about Lukas Perman as Alfred, since he has never played the role and there's something that irritates me in his face and singing. For example Nie geseh'n was indeed a bit too pop-like, and his impressions in He Ho Professor too helpless and exaggerated. His face and tones in Bücher and when he read the book were enjoyable, though, and I liked his Für Sarah. The boy has zero comic talent so it was good that there wasn't actually any dialogue and Alfred's more subtly humorous parts had been cut.

Also Marjan Shaki has never been one of my favourite actors, somehow I can't stand her face, but she was a fairly good Sarah now. I did like her quite a lot in Stärker als wir sind, but otherwise I'm still not a fan of her. Both she and Lukas seemed better when seen from the second balcony. ;)

Tim Reichwein's Herbert was better than in Hamburg, he didn't have such stereotypical manners now. I liked him there, but after that my opinions about him have changed a bit and I didn't expect him to be very good. He had a great choreography in Wenn Liebe in dir ist, which saved a lot and made me enjoy his performance much more than I had thought. It was a bit confusing to see him flirting with female vampires in Tanzsaal, though. And I still dislike his voice.

Suzanne Carey as Magda was great, one of the best ones I've ever seen or heard in the role. Carey reminded me of Eva Maria Marold, and her voice is amazing and I liked her flirting with Alfred.

Rebecca (Tina Schöltzke) was good, I liked her interaction with Chagal (Thomas Bayer) during Knoblauch. Chagal sang well, but he was a bit too nice and lacked certain Chagal-ness, especially in the end of Eine Schöne Tochter ist ein Segen. The rest of the ensemble was really good, their acting, dancing and singing was great and the simple vampire costumes really effective.

Despite the minor flaws with the actors, I loved every second of the concerts. The shortenings of the songs were done much better than in the German productions since now you barely noticed them, the great actors really were great and made me forget the less great ones, there were some really funny little details… The atmosphere was amazing.

Some more photos in KulturChannel's blog.

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