East German music theatre in the big tent! Opera and film director Axel Ranisch, an avowed East Berliner, takes on Gerd Natschinski’s jewel of Heiteres Musiktheater (‘light-hearted music theatre’), and—together with conductor Adam Benzwi—shows us what it’s all about. Starring Thorsten Merten as the egomaniacal manager Mr Kuckuck and Gisa Flake as the fashion prodigy Gisela, it’s a buoyant tribute to people with substance!
At the state-run fashion enterprise VEB Berlin Chic, the manager is former accountant Mr Kuckuck, who has his employees creating mountains of products that nobody could actually wear. The main goal: success at the upcoming fashion fair in Leipzig! Besides him and his head secretary, there’s also Gisela, a down-to-earth employee who’s also caught the eye of newspaper man Fred Funke. In the end, it’s not the dictated design of the manager’s office that becomes the hit of the trade fair, but Gisela’s creation: fashion that works for the woman, not against her!
In composing his first music theatre piece for Berlin’s Metropol Theatre, Gerd Natschinski’s ideas were ‘modern and experimental, but linked to the best of what tradition has to offer’. With Adam Benzwi’s conducting, these snappy melodies go into the ears and right to the feet.
With Gisela, Hit of the Trade Fair, the Komische Oper Berlin is embarking on a new series showcasing the best of East Germany’s Heiteres Musiktheater. It’ll do this at the end of each season by pitching its tent—more precisely, the Queen of Flanders, a charming mirror tent from the Art Deco period—at a spot near the Rotes Rathaus in central Berlin.
Good to know
‘Hooray, a new operetta!’ is what the magazine Der Morgen exclaimed after the premiere on 16 October 1960. Its enthusiasm was born out by the staging of twenty-five additional productions across the country in just one year.