Volksoper, Vienna (Austria) • 10 June 2007 • 4:30pm
Music & lyrics: Jerry Herman. Book: Harvey Fierstein, based on the play by Jean Poiret. Translated into German by Erika Gesell & Christian Severin.
Musical director: Michael Tomaschek. Directed by Dennis Callahan, Heinz Ehrenfreund & David Scala. With Erwin Windegger (Albin/Zaza), Kurt Schreibmayer (Georges), Sascha Oskar Weis (Jean-Michel), Isabel Weicken (Jacqueline), Klaus Ofczarek (Edouard Dindon), Sigrid Martikke (Marie Dindon), Johanna Arrouas (Anne Dindon), Ferdinando Chefalo (Francesco), Norman Stehr (Jacob)…
This production of the Vienna Volksoper has been playing intermittently in repertoire since 1991 and it looks as if it may be leaving the stage for good as there are no performances scheduled during the 2007/2008 season. I’ve had the 1993 CD in my collection for ages and the plan to see the production had never materialised, so I ran to see this very last performance.
It was apparent from the onset that this would be a very enjoyable production. Most notably, the 30+ musicians in the pit gave an enthralling rendition of Jerry Herman’s beautiful score and Jim Tyler’s glorious orchestration, with violins aplenty, a big and generous brass section, a seductive harp, two enchanting flutes and a most beguiling oboe… That sort of sound just isn’t heard any more on Broadway these days, and it is striking that one must go to Austria to hear a Broadway score in its full glory.
The production itself is very faithful to the show and it is, as far as I can remember, the first production of La Cage I’ve seen that uses a revolving set, which in retrospect appears to be a pretty obvious choice given the demands of the numerous changes of locales. A strong and committed cast gave justice to what, in my book, remains one of the most enjoyable musicals of recent times. Well worth the trip.