On the 26th of October 2011 Moscow music theatre "Helikon-Opera" under Dmitry Bertman presented the premiere of "Das Liebesverbot" performance by R. Wagner, with Wagner's libretto upon W. Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure" play. This only comic Wagner's opera had never been staged in Russia before.
“Das Liebesverbot” was written by Wagner, when he was only 22 years old. The young composer hadn’t realized by then that his mission was the grand epics from German mythology. He was only starting his brilliant career as an opera conductor in Magdeburg’s theatre, he was fond of French and Italian operas and was in love with Minna Planner, his future wife. It had all been reflected in great composer’s second opera.
The vice-king of Sicily ignores local traditions and forbids carnivals, wine and free love under pain of death. As Claudio, who is found guilty in these, was arrested, the building of the Palace of Happiness had been stopped. Claudio’s friends are looking the ways to set him free and to cancel the ridiculous bans. It came out that the vice-king is a sinner himself and his deserted lover had found a shelter in a convent. Sicilians could unmask the deputy, catching him doing things he forbade himself. The arrival of the King consolidated their success, the King gave the go-ahead to continue the building process.
“Helikon-Opera” is the first theatre in Russia to stage this little known joyful opera by a “twilight German genius” about the opposition of youth, talent, independence, which are eager for the freedom of love and creativity, on the one side, and the hypocrisy and the political situation covered by the asceticism and morality on the other.
The stage director of “Das Liebesverbot” is Dmitry Bertman, conductor - Vladimir Ponkin. A famous Austrian theatre designer Hartmuth Schoerghoffer has been working under a decoration set. The collaboration of Schoerghoffer and Bertman is not accidental. Their common list of productions include ten joint performances in different countries of the world, among which are “The Queen of Spades” (2009) and “Andre Schenier” in Swedish Royal Opera (2010), “Intizar” in Baku (2010), “Rusalka” by A. Dvorak in Canadian Opera Company in Toronto (2009) and some other. In 2009 H. Schoerghoffer staged “Das Ring des Nibelungen” by R. Wagner in National Concert Hall named after B. Bartok in Budapest. The premiere in “Helikon-Opera” is the first work of an Austrian designer in Moscow. The light designer is Damir Ismagilov, choreographer – Edwald Smirnov.
Merriment reigns on the Island. The inhabitants sing, dance and rejoice, looking forward to opening the Palace of Happiness.
Brighella with his myrmidons reads out the Law of new vice-king Friedrich about the new ban on carnivals, wine and free love under the penalty of death. Everyone laughs until they learn that their friend Claudio should become the first victim of the new law and is supposed to be executed the next day. There is a real mess on the streets of the Island. Young guys Luzio, Angelo and Antonio, however, take all the events as a real adventure, and they are happy to join the brawl. Dorella, the tavern-keeper, makes up her mind to seduce Brighella and grab the part of the Palace of Happiness.
Luzio goes to Isabella's place, she is the only one who can save Claudio!
When Isabella finds out that Claudio is supposed to be executed for love, she realizes that Mariana's secret can only help to save Claudio, as Mariana is the abandoned lover of Friedrich. Luzio falls in love with Isabella from the first sight.
Friedrich affirms the death sentence for Claudio.
Isabella pretends to be a nun. She tries to seduce Friedrich and gets much success in it. Isabella names herself a Claudio's sister. Friedrich offers her his help under one condition, she has to become his lover. Isabella tries to appeal to the people in order to expose the hypocrisy of the vice-king, but Friedrich assures her that nobody would ever believe her. Then Isabella pretends to agree, but she wouldsend Mariana instead of herself to the rendezvous...
Isabella tells her brother about a deal between her and Friedrich. Claudio decides that it is better to die than to agree. The Palace of Happiness should be built!
Pontius Pilatus, the clerk, and Brighella make the corruption agreement.
Friedrich suffers from the pangs of consience, as he decides to go to the secret date after he himself bans the carnivals and love! The same night Brighella dates Dorella.
People of Island get together. Luzio sings the carnival song. Until noweverything goes as planned before: Friedrich has taken the disguised Mariana for Isabella! At the same time Dorella goes after Luzio, who has abandoned her long time ago.
Pontius Pilatus hands the order to Isabella. But in the envelope instead of the paper of pardonshe finds the order for immediate execution! Isabella gathers all the people together and exposes Friedrich's hypocrisy. Pontius Pilatus discovers Friedrich with a woman, who also happens to be his abandoned lover! Friedrich, being disclosed in public, asks to judge him according his own law, but the people answer that this law is already cancelled by the King, so he is free to go!
The game is over!
Angelo announces the King's coming. The people of the Island headed by Friedrich and even Brighella with his gang and Dorella, all together finish the building of the Palace of Happiness before the King arrives.