Kreissig’s first opera direction was the German premiere of “L’Equivovo Stravagante” in 1993 at the Rossini Festival in Bad Wildbad. The fairly unknown piece with gorgeous music premiered in 1811 in Bologna which at that was occupied by Napoleons armies. After only 3 performances the Napoleonic office of censore prohibited further performances due to its provocative content.
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A crazy and provocative plot
In “L’Equivoco” the farmer Gamberotto has chosen the rich Buralicchio as husband to be for his daughter Ernestina. Ernestina would rather have a career in academia, unthinkable in the times when Equivovo was written. She is worshiped by Ermanno who has managed to work as her tutor in Gamberotto’s household.
As the wonderfully absurd and politically provocative plot unfolds, Buralicchio is rejected by Ernestina. In revenge he spreads the rumor that Ernestina is actually a castrato disguised as a girl who wants to escape military service. Ernestina is arrested and put in prison.
Making political connections
Kreissig moved the plot to an credit card-supported wishful sons, choirs of singing garden gnomes and languishing students and a line of ancestors of large farmers with cabbage fields, in whose lineage the then German Chancellor Helmut Kohl was to be discovered. At the end of the confusion it is Ermanno who liberates his Ernestina from military custody, and Thorsten Kreissig stages this scene in Wildbad in a refreshingly farcical manner: two soldiers hold a cloth with a painted wall behind which Ernestina languishes; Ermanno takes the key from one of the guards and the lover slips into the air behind the cloth
In the 1993 premiere the female lead “Ernestina” was still sung by a soprano using a score from the mid 1950ies. After the premiere the musical director Rüdiger Bohn was able to recover a lot of the original material and reconstructed a revised version in 1994 with Ernestina as a mezzo.
Starting point for careers
The young Matthias Klink made a fantastic role debut in 1983 as the buffoon soloist in the first version, which was partly sung in German and featured a soprano in the leading role of Ernestina. Swiss singer Heidi Brunner played Ernestina in the faithfully reconstructed 1994 performance, this time in Italian and with a correct coloratura mezzo.
(…) …) Kreissig made for comedic vibrancy, also brought all sorts of crackers, but did not overburden the whole thing with gags, drove his characters not into the bizarre, which would have rather paralyzed the lively flow. A workable, clever concept that was appropriate and worthy of a portioned amusement.
Hans-Klaus Jungheinrich, Frankfurter Rundschau July 17, 1993
That the two-and-a-half-hour evening was even more than just a musical rediscovery, namely a veritable fun, that is due to the staging by Thorsten Kreissig. (…) The farmers are garden gnomes with clown noses, the philosophical reading club of Ernestina is like a VEB bookbug and the stunningly self-loving groom Buralicchio throws Kleenex sweat cloths among his supposed fans and shows off his credit card selection. (…) Kreissig always does as much as a director, so that you know what it is about, but you do not get annoyed by it. Which is the main reason why the laughing-heart is hit.
Rainer Wagner, Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, July 13, 1993
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