Die Gezeichneten, Komische Oper Berlin — tasteless banality

(Financial Times) —  Franz Schreker’s Die Gezeichneten is a natural choice for the director Calixto Bieito, who, with or without an overtly erotic plot, is known to introduce sexual violence on stage. And yet, in his eighth production for the Komische Oper, he is not content merely to grapple with the storyline about a secret isle where noblemen indulge their fantasies with kidnapped girls.

The main character, Alviano Salvago, instead has a penchant for young boys and carries around a doll in infantile longing. The painter Carlotta Nardi has an incestuous relationship with her father, the mayor of Genoa, and it is she — not Alviano — who murders the playboy Vitelozzo Tamare in the final scene.

Schreker, presaging Berg’s Lulu and building on the seething harmonies of Wagner, captures the volatile excesses and social hypocrisy of fin de siècle Vienna. At the height of his opera career, between 1917 and 1921, the Austrian composer enjoyed more fame than Richard Strauss. He was subsequently ousted by the Nazis. […]