BWW Review: COUNTESS MARIZA at Seefestspiele Moerbisch
Countess Mariza at the Seefestspiele Moerbisch
Seefestbuehne Moerbisch, situated next to the Austrian-Hungarian border in Niederoesterreich by the Lake Neusiedl is an exquisite venue to watch and listen to operetta. The enormous open-air theatre with its mighty stage has been a host to beautifully conceived classic operetta performances since 1957. The core repertoire covers the most popular works of Franz Lehar, Johann Strauss and Emmerich Kalman alongside with the occasional visit of musicals such as The Fiddler on the Roof and My Fair Lady.
This year's presentation was one of the most staged operettas worldwide, Countess Mariza by Emmerich Kalman. One does not have to be an operetta lover to be able to hum the popular numbers of this eternal piece of musical theatre. Of course, the plot is not too complicated and a bit too melodramatic, the characters is more or less one-sided, but this is quite acceptable on a hot summer evening at the lakeside.
The staging by the seasoned Moerbisch-bound director, Karl Absenger, and especially the eye-catching stage design was nothing short of brilliant. An enormous violin served as the central element of the stage, because of its size (height: 12 meters, width: 45 meters), it can easily be an entry into the never-to-be-written Guinness Big Book of Theatre. Along with the vivid costumes, the huge ensemble and the spectacular choreography by the Hungarian Johanna Bodor, this show looked like A real BROADWAY musical.
The most compact performance of the evening came from the leading lady: Julia Koci (Grafin Mariza) has everything her part requires, her acting was more than adequate, and the singing was effortless. As the male protagonist, Alexander Geller (Tassilo aka Bela Torek) also has a voice for his demanding role but his acting was a bit uninvolved. Andreas Sauerzapf, who played Baron Zsupan could not be blamed for the same as his vivid performance was another highlight of the evening. His rendition of the showstopper number 'Come with me to Varasdin' is a real delight.
This year's Countess Mariza will be followed The Land of Smiles by Franz Lehar next July and August. I am quite sure it will be worth visiting.