Institutional violence has been a running theme in Torsten Fischer’s series of Gluck operas at the Theater an der Wien, albeit with a lid kept firmly on the idea of actual conflict. An indication to the contrary, given minutes into this staging of Iphigénie en Aulide with the Berlin Wall-style point-blank shooting of a wretched escapee from Herbert Schäfer’s concrete bunker of a set, is laden with little meaning beyond blunt signposting of the stakes which face Agamemnon (whose daughter’s sacrifice is demanded by the goddess Diana in exchange for the safe passage of Greek forces across the Aegean), while military uniforms, which veer wildly in style from in-your-face Nazi chic to a sleek Special Forces number for Patroclus, are assembled with a fetishist’s love of leather and jackboots and serve more to illuminate combat dress through the ages than Gluck’s opera.
For more, see Bachtrack. Premiering ten years too late to be as gravely topical as Torsten Fischer makes it look, this new Theater an der Wien production got stuck in a Bush-hating time warp. While Fischer’s stagings always have the makings of the best kind of hot mess – here Iraq rounded off a Regie trifecta of half-baked political critique, combat uniform obsession and arthouse pretensions ranging from the expendably benign (video art designed by Haneke’s son David) to vacuous posturing – his ideas and pacing remain too plodding to provoke. Still, this Iphigénie wasn’t quite as inexcusably dull as last year Telemaco.
Members of this cast, incidentally, are to record the Wagner version of this opera next year. More production images follow the jump.
Image credit: Armin Bardel