The Komische Oper is remounting Oscar Straus’ 1923 operetta The Pearls of Cleopatra, a light bit of fun about a powerful female leader and a disaffected middle class amid a drought. Timely, right?
Who knows if artistic director Barrie Kosky will be able to stick the landing, but the potential for some pretty incisive political satire is right there. In the background, anyway.
The social turmoil provides context for the main story: Cleopatra’s ability to enchant two lovers, a Syrian prince and Roman official, with her magical pearls. This is right in Kosky’s highcamp wheelhouse and the Art Deco designs should be suitably opulent. And okay, the libretto’s innuendos about sword-sheathing might be decidedly old-school, but it’s a nice inverse to love triangles with a man on top.
It’s also a good chance to get to know a repertoire you never knew existed: performances at the intersection of Austrian operetta, jazz and cabaret music which were popular in Berlin in the 1920s. Not to put too fine a point on it, but you don’t have to look far to see Weimar Germany in the headlines again (next month… hint, hint). Maybe some cheesy glitzy musical theatre from the time will give some insight – or at least distract us for a few hours.
The Pearls of Cleopatra Premieres Dec 13, 15, 19, 21, 28, 31 | Komische Oper, Mitte