[Hu. Back from the doctor, blurry vision & scarily wide pupils from eye-drops, but everything's fine & I'm getting new contacts, which is probably A Good Thing, since I can't even remember how old exactly the ones I'm wearing now are.]
Anyway. Holiday, the more factual and less depressing part.
Saw M. Kusej's production of König Ottokar's Glück und Ende [ pictures] in Salzburg with sister & sister's boyfriend, and found it ever so slightly disappointing. Perhaps I had too high expectations from his his Hamlet a few years ago, but while he still creates stunningly beautiful pictures/scenes, the interpretation was a little... lacking, IMO, too predictable, too cold, erstarrt in schönen Bildern. Perhaps it is my mood that has changed and what I liked about the Downward Spiral-esque Hamlet then, irritates me here? Maybe I'm seeing the wrong plays, and admittedly I don't see all that many, but I'm getting tired of these oh-so-beautifully staged, but fundamentally cold, detached productions, as if evoking sympathy, allowing some identification with a character is something slightly dirty, especially if this character isn't in some ways a victim. In this case you had the choice between Ottokar, who was portrayed as an unpleasant tyrant from the moment he enters the stage, and Rudolf, a power-hungry, self-righteous opportunist, constantly spouting pious phrases about his sacred mission, which he himself may or may not believe in. There was nothing new, nothing even remotely interesting, nothing really touching. Power corrupts, or, more precisely is inherently evil. Obligatory Bush reference, that is, insertion of what from what I heard was part of one of his speeches. Yawn. All the male characters (with the exception of Seyfried) were unpleasant to a greater or lesser degree, and the women long-suffering pawns and victims (Berta and Margarete), unless they chose to play a part in the male game of power, in which case they become as unpleasant as the men, if not more so (Kunigunde).
It is exactly the interpretation that offers itself when you read the play in todays political climate; it doesn't explain anything, and isn't challenging, because everyone can comfortably sit back and nod in agreement that politicians/leaders are and have always been bad, and the best you can do is chose the lesser of two evils. A little nudity (check) and sex (check) aren't provocative or particularly interesting; there would have been much more potential for provocation and/or interest if the director had allowed you to get a little more into the protagonists' heads, let you see what moves them, what makes people follow them, in a way that doesn't allow the safety of intellectual detachment.
If I remember correctly, Artistoteles somewhere in the Poetik says something along the lines that for a tragedy to work successfully the audience has to be able to sympathise with a character's fate, and that this works best if you show a basically good man (or at least not a thoroughly evil one) brought down by fate / the gods / his own hybris... and reading the play beforehand, I think in some ways at least it does work according to these principles of Greek tragedy. A man at the hight of his success, subsequently brought down by his own pride, because he doesn't know where to stop and believes himself above the rules.
The play isn't cheap black-and-white painting or blind patriotism, and there are a timeless and still very much valid moral and warning in Ottokar's last monologue (Und hab ich auch das Schlimme nicht gewollt, / Wer war ich, Wurm? daß ich mich unterwand, / Den Herrn der Welten frevelnd nachzuspielen, / Durchs Böse suchend einen Weg zum Guten!, going on to emphasis the worth and value of every single human life so easily and thoughtlessly wasted), a passage I personally consider both touching and important, because it puts everything, and not only Ottokar's life and fate, in a totally different perspective, but because one was never able to sympathise with him, his downfall and ultimate remorse were not particularly touching, either, and it went rather unnoticed.
In conclusion, pretty, but a little else.
Tobias Moretti didn't impress me all that much, either, though it's hard to tell whether this is due to him and his acting, or the general style of the production. Still... I can't help thinking there must have been more suitable actors.