"Silverlake will bear whoever must go farther!" (Wer weiter muss, den trägt der Silbersee): this is the final, utopian sentence at the end of Der Silbersee by Kurt Weill and Georg Kaiser. - Severin and Olim, the two protagonists of this grim fairy tale, flee from the winter of a cynical and violent society to the spring of a new life across a magical frozen lake. Opera Ballet Vlaanderen presents a brand-new production of Weill's rarely performed work, which premiered in Germany in February 1933, three weeks after the Nazis came to power.
The underprivileged and outcasts of society live on the Silverlake. There we find Severin and his comrades who can no longer control their hunger. During a grocery store robbery, the fleeing Severin is shot by the policeman Olim.
Severin's loot is nothing but a pineapple, Olim discovers. He exonerates Severin and reveals himself as his benefactor after winning a jackpot of money. Severin, who has remained ignorant of the identity of the man who shot him, continues to seek revenge. Even though he is bathed in luxury and excess in Olim's new castle, he cannot forget that the sweet aroma of the pineapple – his dream of paradise – was once denied him.
The idiosyncratic theatre maker Ersan Mondtag, who made his opera debut at Opera Ballet Vlaanderen with the acclaimed Der Schmied von Gent (Franz Schreker), here offers a contemporary take on Der Silbersee. We are immersed in a dystopian society in 2033, which is in the grip of social inequality, censorship and polarization. As a hybrid production, between theatre and opera, Der Silbersee brings together an exquisite cast of singers and actors including Benny Claessens and Marjan De Schutter, who recently starred in the TV series Albatros.
Image: Tim Coppens