keskiviikko 4. tammikuuta 2012

Elisabeth - Operettszínház, Budapest 2010

 First, Zsolt Homonnay as the Death rocks. I think I've finally found my kind of Death, the kind of Death I could imagine meeting some day. Zsolt is majestic, dignified and somehow feels more mature than most Deaths I've seen, but underneath there's a volcano that he sometimes has a bit trouble to control. My friend described him as hot ice or something like that, which I think says it all. Zsolt also has a bit manlier features than (Hungarian) Deaths usually and generally he's less androgyne, less ethereal and less fairy-like when compared to especially Szilvester Szabó in the role. Szilveszter is the complete opposite and very Death-like and I liked him in the role, but in his case I can't personally relate to Elisabeth who falls in love with his Death. I prefer Men. I sometimes have problems with Zsolt's voice, but in this role he sounds perfect. His Der letzte Tanz is amazing, all badly hidden hurt pride and cynical mocking but still not too much. I love the moment when he takes a glass, puts another glass to the hand of the frozen Franz Joseph and does a silent "Cheers!" with him. Also the end of the song, when he raises his glass for the last note, waits until the applauds are over and then drinks it empty, is great. Purr, I'm in love.

Nikolett Füredi & Zsolt Homonnay. All photos: Operettszínház
Now, if only Zsolt had a make-up and clothes that fit him, I might consider letting his Death kiss me someday. But no, they've managed to give him too short and tight trousers made of white or black satin, shoes that look like galoshes and a shirt that my friend described as a glittered pajama. The coat looks fairly good, but the make-up doesn't fit his features at all and makes him resemble a slightly macabre drag queen. The same style looks perfect on the skinny Szilveszter, but with Zsolt they should have taken a new approach. Or at least made him trousers that cover his ankles, because now he reminds me of my high school German teacher.

Which leads us to my general problem with the Hungarian production: it premiered in 1996 and it shows. They should update it a bit, change the cheap-looking costumes and get rid of some of the useless trash on stage. They've got too much unimportant props and too much useless ensemble for my liking, and it makes the whole thing chaotic and quite ugly. The Death's angels with their 90's aerobic video choreographies just make me giggle. I actually like the basic sets, but I could live with them much better if there wasn't all this other stuff and people on stage. Now there's just too much everything and the important people and ideas that actually work drown into a mess.

The King and Queen of Hungary
I think it would also be good to update the libretto, since they still mostly use the translation of the original 1992 Vienna version and I think some of the later changes for example in the Prologue in German were made for a reason. No matter how pretty the song Útvesztő minden út (Kein Kommen ohne Geh'n) is, I think it's quite useless to again point out how much in love the Death is with Elisabeth, and the song is quite sugary compared to Death's usual style.

I thought I would never say this, but I actually liked Árpád Zsolt Mészáros as Lucheni. I still find the guy himself quite disgusting and can't watch him from very close because he's just eww, but I like his Lucheni. He's anarchistic enough, energetic, annoying in the good Lucheni-like way and I liked his chemistry with the Death. I can't take Tamás Földes seriously in almost any role, but Lucheni is definitely the worst of these cases, in my eyes he just lacks all Lucheni-ness. He's too middle-aged, both physically and attitude-wise.

Nikolett Füredi & Zsolt Homonnay
The Hungarians also have my two favourite Elisabeths: Nikolett Füredi and Bernadett Vágó. Both have a lovely strong voice (though Bernadett sometimes does the usual Operettszínház shouting in high notes), both can act very convincinly, and both really feel like Elisabeth. I somehow can't put my finger on it, but their ideas work. They definitely aren't similar, but I enjoy watching both portrayals. I'd like to see Kata Janza some day to know what I think of her Elisabeth, but her voice hurts my ears so I'm not sad about missing her on all the four times I've seen the Hungarian production.

The ensemble is good as well, and some details in the production work very nicely. Their Milch gives me goosebumps. I like it how the Death also comes for Sophie, and how Rudolf in the end of Der Hass runs to stage and to the middle of people's hate. It kind of motivates his Wenn ich dein Spiegel wär' and connects Der Hass better with the other scenes.

Attila Dolhai (Rudolf) & Zsolt Homonnay
I'd like to see Kentaur design the sets and costumes to Elisabeth. Hungarians have some of the best actors I've seen in the musical, and their psychological and dark take on the story works as an idea, but the sets, costumes and use of ensemble are too operetta-like and it doesn't match my idea of Elisabeth.

Links:
Production homepage
Photo gallery
About the musical in Finnish

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