Geneva opera issues ratings warning for new production

Tue Feb 2, 2010 9:54am EST
 
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GENEVA (Reuters) - Geneva's opera house has taken the unusual step of issuing a warning to audiences about its new production of Alban Berg's harrowing opera "Lulu", saying it may be unsuitable for people aged less than 16.

Lulu, one of the masterpieces of the 20th century operatic canon, premieres on Thursday in a production by controversial French theater director Olivier Py.

Previous productions in the staid Swiss city by Py, who heads the prestigious Theater de l'Odeon in Paris, have brought out the sex and violence which is not far from the surface in some of the most lyrical operas.

Lulu, based on two dramas by German fin-de-siecle playwright Frank Wedekind, tells the story of a sexually attractive dancer who seduces several men and women, usually leading to their deaths, before ending up as a prostitute and being murdered by Jack the Ripper.

"To translate to the stage the intentions of the composer and his inspiration Frank Wedekind, Olivier Py and his team have drawn on images which -- while increasingly common and widespread -- remain rare and unusual on the operatic stage and could shock an unprepared spectator," the Geneva Grand Theater said in a letter to patrons.

A similar warning was issued in advance of a 2005 production of Richard Wagner's opera Tannhaeuser, which portrays the conflict between sexual and spiritual love, also directed by Py.

(Reporting by Jonathan Lynn, editing by Paul Casciato)