Das Liebesverbot (The Ban on Love)
Composed by Richard Wagner
Conducted by Corrado Rovaris
Directed by Nicholas Muni
Starring Claudia Waite, Holli Harrison, Lauren Skuce, Richard Cox, Ryan MacPerson, Mark Schnaible, and Kevin Glavin
Alice Busch Opera Theatre
Richard Wagner called his 1836 grand comic opera Das Liebesverbot “the sin of my youth”. Based on Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, it is a difficult opera to stage because of the sheer number of singers and sprawling libretto.
Wagner used the work to advance his own rebellion against Germany’s suffocating bourgeoisie mentality by turning the opera into a paean for free love. Director Nicholas Muni has set the scene around the 1930s with clear reference to Hitler. He keeps the stage picture busy which perfectly captures Wagner’s chaotic happenings. The tone of the opera throughout is tongue-in-cheek. Muni wants us laughing with him at his over-the-top direction, and it works.
Italian conductor Corrado Rovaris drives the music relentlessly while keeping a tight rein on Wagner’s ramblings. This being Wagner, the singers, particularly the women, have to produce sound at strain and drain proportions. Sopranos Claudia Waite as Isabella and Holli Harrison as Mariana are impressive. In fact, the large cast is excellent throughout.
Glimmerglass Opera continues in Cooperstown, New York until Aug. 24