With The Silver Lake, the Opéra national de Lorraine is presenting a rare and truly unclassifiable masterpiece: a little gem of black humour and theatre of the absurd. But it is also a spark of hope that was almost buried under the rubble of history. After the success of The Threepenny Opera, Kurt Weill set about composing this opera in 1932, which, under the guise of an improbable fable, captured the spirit of a troubled era better than any other.
For stealing a pineapple to feed his family, the proletarian Severin is wounded by a shot fired by Constable Olim. To clear his conscience, Olim invites him to the Silver Lake Castle, which he has won in a lottery. Despite the housekeeper's attempts to stir up their hatred, the two men strike up a friendship. The lake freezes over, suggesting a possible path towards the light. But in the shadows, Hitler has begun his unstoppable rise.
The Silver Lake suffered the same fate as Cassandra: first performed in 1933 just after the Nazis came to power, it was banned after its sixteenth performance. A few weeks later, Kurt Weill went into exile in the United States. Described by the regime as a "musical bastard" (which in retrospect seems like a compliment), the work is halfway between opera and cabaret. The devilishly inventive and rousing music freely revisits forms such as the cantata, the chanson, the ballad and the oratorio: almost a century later, it brings tears of laughter and horror to our eyes.
You are not yet released from the obligation to live.The Silver Lake
It called for a director to match this madcap piece, and Ersan Mondtag, the new darling of German theatre, certainly delivers. With his spectacular sets and exuberant costumes, he energises this work, bringing it up to date in a Europe prey to the resurgence of nationalism.
The breathtaking success of this production - awarded the prize for best European co-production by the Syndicat français de la critique - owes a great deal to actor Benny Claessens, who pulls it off with flying colours. A consummate showman, this Fleming cut his teeth in Belgium before becoming one of the leading actors at the Kammerspiele in Munich and then the Schaubühne in Berlin. At the premiere at the Antwerp Opera, we witnessed his ability to set the house alight with a single line.
3h with interval
5 — 85 €
in German, surtitles
All audiences from 14 years
Introduction to the performance
45 minutes before the start of the performance (free of charge, upon presentation of ticket).
Der Silbersee (The Silver Lake), mock opera
First performed in Leipzig, Magdeburg and Erfurt, le 18 février 1933
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
Opéra national de Lorraine
Gaetano Lo Coco
William Le Sage
Till Briegleb, Piet De Volder
Nicola Beller Carbone