“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 melancholy 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 Piotr Beczala, a world star who cultivates the tradition of the famous Tauber style like no other, returned to the Opernhaus Zürich as Sou-Chong. He has an equal partner in Julia Kleiter, who played 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 Variététheater from the 1920s, complete with show staircase and heavy curtains. To emphasize the operatic elements, he purged the piece, cutting several secondary roles and shortening dialogues.
Franz Lehár’s Das Land des Lächelns is one of the best-known operettas of all time – and, according to Kurt Tucholsky, Lehár is “the Puccini for the common man.” Like Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Lehár focuses on Asian subjects, thematizing the European attraction for the exotic in the encounter of two people whose love is shattered by foreign customs and ancient traditions.
“With Piotr Beczala and Julia Kleiter, two great performers-interpreters are on the stage at the Zurich premiere.” Neue Zürcher Zeitung
“Julia Kleiter as Lisa and Piotr Beczala as Sou-Chong – unhappy lovers, but vocally a dream couple!” SRF
“One smiles as a spectator, but without sorrow, because this performance was so beautiful, so harmonious, so elaborately staged.” Tagesanzeiger
Photo Credit: Toni Suter
|Directed by:||Michael Beyer|
|In Co-production with:||ZDF/Arte|
|In Association with:||Opernhaus Zürich|