Solveig Steinhardt traveled back to Berlin’s 1930s to discover a lost Broadway-style genre.
Join Barrie Kosky as he brings back the magic of Berlin's operetta genre of the 1930s.
In the imaginary South American country of Boliguay, a movie crew is trying to cross the border to begin shooting their film, but the country’s army of revolutionary Amazons denies access. The only way for the film crew to enter the country is to find a Boliguayan husband for the movie’s main character, Clivia. Written by Nico Dostal in the 1930s, Clivia is a great example of the Berlin operetta genre, a sort of forerunner of the Broadway musical. Because most operetta composers and performers were Jewish, the genre was banned by the Nazis, only to be rediscovered more than 80 years later by Komische Oper art director Barrie Kosky. “Think of a theater work in which cabaret meets burlesque meets jazz meets standup meets big show meets opera meets a Broadway musical,” Kosky told WHERE Berlin. And this is exactly what Clivia is all about: encompassing all clichés and starring German musical cabaret artists Geschwister Pfister, this highly humorous performance includes a wide range of characters, from the unlikely couple to the nosey American reporter, the revolutionary leader and the Berlin inventor, and also features exciting moments of Fred Astaire-style dancing and fast-paced humorous ensembles. Clivia is not the only operetta that Barrie Kosky revived. In his years at the opera theater, he has brought back other shows, all in German but with English surtitles, like Ball im Savoy, Die schöne Helena, or Eine Frau, die weiss, was sie will. In an attempt to bring back the magic of the Berlin 1930s, this month the Komische Oper will be presenting its first Berlin Operetta Festival from 24 January to 8 February, with a rich program of Kosky’s rediscovered operettas and operetta-related performances. And if you are curious to see Kosky himself in all his theatrical splendor, do not miss him on stage on 27 January, when he will be accompanying singers Alma Sadé and Helene Schneiderman in Farges Mikh Nit, a series of Yiddish operetta songs of exile and homesickness.
“Cabaret meets burlesque meets jazz meets standup meets big show meets