At first everything seems quite normal: the red curtain rises, opens a view of a festively decorated stage, the orchestra kicks off. After the first applause, the director appears, greets the audience “in the most beautiful theater tent in Thuringia” and promises a great new season. It offers something of everything: drama, ballet, puppet theater, operetta, musical and opera. Great opera, really great opera: Verdi’s “Aida”. Kay Kuntze offers the astonished spectators that they have spared neither expense nor effort, 132 extras have just been cast and an elephant has been ordered from the Leipzig zoo, which will immediately be seen on the stage. Törööö!
Kuntze has to go to the couch
But instead of the pachyderm there is a confused theater director who attests that his boss has a post-pandemic nervous flutter. Manuel Kressin speculates that the past year and a half with month-long closings, new program changes and countless zoom conferences have left their mark. When Kuntze explains that the next ballet will bring “Jurassic Park” and that negotiations with Steven Spielberg are already in progress, Kressin has no choice: he asks Kuntze to sit on the therapist’s couch. Ultimately, however, in view of his own perceptual disorders (“There is no audience here!”), He ends up on it himself. So both look alternately in hypnosis or in their dreams on the new season.
Not a mere number program
The dramaturges Sophie Jira and Felix Eckerle, with the participation of the two protagonists, have embedded the opening gala this year in this framework, in keeping with the current situation. Basically, however, the Altenburg-Gera Theater has thankfully said goodbye to a mere number program for some time, in which the moderation is exhausted in reading out titles, authors, directors and actors of new productions, from which scenes are then shown. There is a leaflet for this with all the important information. This time the piece from which the following excerpt originates appears on a monitor. In between there is a lot of wonderful puns that the moderator duo often pokes at themselves. Kay Kuntze and Manuel Kressin are now a well-rehearsed team and seem to be more and more absorbed in their role from time to time. The audience is having fun.
From heavy stuff to amusement and jubilation
But the sequences of future pieces from all five genres are top-class, in sum – exceptions confirm the rule – especially in the first part, therefore, a little too melancholy. Be it in the play “Die Ratten” (can already be seen in Altenburg) or “Father”, in the music theater the operas “Eugen Onegin”, “In der penal colony” or “The human voice”, in the puppet theater “Nathan’s children”. How much the audience has been waiting for something amusing is made clear by the reactions when, for example, at “Wildschütz” all the musicians in the orchestra, including the conductor, conjured up hats with chamois beards. Shows the jubilation after the appearance of five gentlemen who fervently sing about a small green cactus. However, the Comedian Harmonists are not yet in the program, which is initially only available for the first half of the year. The champagne-mood end with the operetta “The whole world is sky blue” and a corona song with the words “I want, I would be a chicken” release the audience quite lively on Sunday evening.
Oh yes: The technical director, René Prautsch, then has to cancel the order for an elephant …
The gala can still be seen in Gera on September 24th, 25th and 26th.
By Ellen Paul