By JR on Friday, November 04, 2016
Viktoria und ihr Husar
Viktoria with her husband -- in his dreadful shiny blue jacket
A close-up of the hair
I have just finished watching my DVD of "Viktoria und ihr Husar" for the second time. It was written well outside the Golden Era of Operetta so I did not expect it to be of the same standard, and it was not. Both the libretto and the music disappointed to some extent. The composer, Paul Abraham, did apparently get some acclaim in his day but seems to be forgotten now, for good reason, I think. I had certainly never heard from him. To me, none of the songs were memorable.
So why did Dagmar Schellenberger decide to put it on at Moerbisch? I would say that she put it on just as a piece of light entertainment. The plot was so corny that it could not have been much else. So the show was, at a rough estimate 90%singing and dancing and capering around, all done very colorfully. So I imagine that the audience would have appreciated the ever-changing colorful scenes that flitted before them.
Some writers have described the show as a "Revue operetta", meaning that the story was just a small framework around a whole series of light sketches. It is that. So if that is what the audiences expected, they got it.
I wonder a little what the costume dept. was up to. The "American" was presented in some weird get-ups. The shiny blue jacket he wore in the early part of the show was was quite revolting and I have never seen anything like some of his later ensembles on any live American. Possibly they have absorbed the British stereotype of Americans, that they dress in a tastelessly flashy way.
Americans do tend to dress more colorfully than the English but the costume dept. seems to have let their imaginations rule the day here. Mind you, when a deplored minority of the English get into their shell-suits, anything goes -- so the Moerbisch designers may have been aware of that.
A shell suit
Before I started watching the show, I did not look to see who was in the cast. So I was vaguely curious to see who the young woman was who had the leading role. She looked in her 20s so I just assumed that she was some new singer. So when I looked up the cast I was amazed to see that the leading lady was none other than KS Dagmar Schellenberger herself.
At the risk of extreme ungallantry I note that it is some time since Dagmar was in her 20s. So it is amazing what stage makeup, stage lighting and careful cinematography can do. I note that there was not much in the way of close-ups on her this time. But she was as sprightly as ever, running around the set with great energy. She even drove off on the motorbike. The singing was not very demanding vocally but she managed to pump out some big notes here and there.
That she took the leading role for herself was no great surprise. Her predecessor at Moerbisch, Harald Serafin, also usually cast himself in major roles in his own productions.
I have not yet been able to find much in the way of reviews of the show but, as a revue, I imagine it was a great success. I have never enjoyed revues so my limited appreciation of this one should not be read as a general criticism.
Viktoria (Dagmar) finally get her Hussar