We went to see Lulu performed by the Welsh National Opera last night. It is by Alban Berg and although we had seen Wozzeck when the Millenium Centre opened I didn't know much about it. I read up the plot which is fairly nonsensical when read out. However the pre concert talk was interesting because the libretto is based on a play which is part of the Theatre of the Absurd, and the plot was fairly absurd.
Oddly they all left out what I thought was the most interesting part of the story. They concentrated Lulu being a femme fatale who has lots of lovers and gets through 3 husbands during the course of the opera, everyone who meets her falls in love with her. Her husbands die - usually because she is being unfaithful to them - and in the end she is murdered when they have fallen on hard times and she has had to resort to prostitution. However a man who is called her father pops up although later on it seems he isn't her father. The man she most loves, rescued her when she was 12, and although he is now her lover he is also clearly a father figure. She later marries him, and he dies, then she marries the son. This opera is based in the 1920's and I can't believe everyone seems to have ignored the whole Freudian aspect of the story. If you read it in Wikipedia and some other things Freud doesn't get a mention, but it was screaming Freud to me when I saw it.
The director had gone for the idea of a circus which is where the opera opens, with the characters wearing animal heads and being animals in the circus. But again, you can put Freud into that with animal prototypes, as well as incest, etc etc.
Why has everyone seemed to ignore this?
The singing was fabulous, and the orchestra was faultless. The costumes had a colour theme for different scenes and different husbands which worked really well. The set didnt work very well as it was a sort of combination circus ring come birdcage which was quite constricting, and singers climbing up ladders is always distracting I find. The music was lovely actually, especially if you stopped reading the surtitles and closed your eyes to just listen. I do find surtitles make you concentrate on the words and don't pay enough attention to the whole music and theatrical effect of the opera. However without them I would have no idea what was happening so I wouldn't be without them.