Seventy years after Walter Felsenstein's production of The Gypsy Baron, (the single production of this work in the history of the Komische Oper Berlin), director Tobias Kratzer, celebrated for his production of Tannhauser in Bayreuth, stages one of Strauss’s most famous operettas as a parable of the conflicts of today’s multicultural society. With Stefan Soltesz at the podium, he’ll be supported by an expert in the domain of Viennese operetta.
A penniless young emigrant who returns to his homeland only to find his ancestral property gone to ruin; a wealthy pig farmer who has meanwhile taken possession of the property; a royal commissar who acts as a defender of conservative public morals; and an underprivileged ethnic group, collectively referred to as “the gypsies": this is the explosive mix that Ignaz Schnitzer brings together in his libretto to The Gypsy Baron. And not merely by chance: written as a reflection on the Austro-Hungarian Compromise of 1867, the operetta addresses in a playful manner the self-understanding and self-discovery process of the Habsburg multinational state. For director Tobias Kratzer, it is a rich template with which to examine — by means of situational comedy and absurdist humor — similar contemporary conflicts.
Johann Strauss devoted himself to the composition of The Gypsy Baron for an unusually long period of time. That the Viennese Court Opera was at one time in consideration for the The Gypsy Baron’s premiere is reflected in the composition, which in its musical bearing and grand-scale finale approaches operatic proportions. Next to The Bat and A Night in Venice, The Gypsy Baron is one of Strauss’ most popular operettas. With its masterly blend of Viennese and Hungarian tonalities, the score is one of the best ever penned by the King of the Waltz.
Text by Ignaz Schnitzer, based on the novella Sáffi by Mór Jókai
In the header: Nadja Mchantaf | Photo: Jan Windszus Photography, 3D Art: Sven Windszus