“Always smile and always be cheerful, always satisfied, no matter what happens, smile in spite of your sorrows and a thousand aches and pains,” sings Prince Sou-Chong, thus introducing the fundamentally melancholic tone of “Das Land des Lächelns” (The Land of Smiles), which even has a tragic ending in store. For the new production of this operetta, world-class tenor Piotr Beczala returned to the Opernhaus Zürich as Sou-Chong. He has an equal partner in Julia Kleiter, who plays the role of Lisa. Fabio Luisi and Andreas Homoki also know that the genre of operetta requires particular care – which is why they have assumed personal responsibility for this production.
Homoki lets the plot take place in a Paris Variété theater from the 1920s, complete with show staircase and heavy curtains. To emphasize the operatic elements, he condensed the piece, cutting several secondary roles and shortening dialogues.
Piotr Beczala, Prince Sou-Chong
Julia Kleiter, Lisa
Rebeca Olvera, Mi
Spencer Lang, Count Gustav v. Pottenstein
Cheyne Davidson, Tschang
Martin Zysset, Chief Eunuch
Fabio Luisi, musical direction
Andreas Homoki, stage director
Klaus Grünberg, set and lighting designer
Silke Willrett, costume design
Kathrin Brunner, dramaturgy
Chor der Oper Zürich
Recorded at the Opernhaus Zürich
In this successful Zurich production, Das Land des Lächelns remains what it is: a romantic operetta. Andreas Homoki’s staging focusses on the characters and their emotions. With a superb cast and an excellent conducting by Fabio Luisi this is without any doubt the best video production currently available. Pizzicato