Dear Mr. Schell,
I would like to preface this letter by extending my condolences to you upon the death of your sister. She was a fine actress. I wish I could remember the name of the picture in which she portrayed a very difficult role, the love interest of a man who also happened to be a pedophile. This was a very daring subject back in the 60s or 70s, but your sister managed to illuminate what is even today a very distasteful subject.
My primary reason for writing, however, is to protest in the strongest manner possible the outrageous ad for Der Rosenkavalier that appeared in last Sunday’s L.A. Times.
Speaking of distasteful, what does this sleazy, tawdry, homo-erotic ad have to do with this sweet Mozart-like tale? Obviously an opera fan knows where you are coming from. The opera opens with two women in bed and I have even read where Strauss’ opening bars of music is his conception of a musical orgasm. Still we know the role of Octavian, a male portrayed by a female, is nothing more than a musical device, and that these trouser roles are frequent in opera, i.e. Cherubino, Siebel, Nicklausse, Oscar, Orloff, etc.
To imply that an unsuspecting new opera-goer is going to experience a voyeuristic homosexual theater event is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
There is of course the delicious irony in the third act when we have a female playing a male turns around and portrays a female! Even more ironic, the love interests in the opera could hardly be more heterosexual. Besides the fact that the Marschallin and Ochs are cousins, they also enjoy a passion for much younger members of the opposite sex!
I believe this almost fairy tale opera—a Viennese masquerade if you will—has been besmirched by this ad’s misleading dissemblance. The ad credits Gottfried Helnwein for artwork. I see he is also listed as a production manager. I hope you will show him a copy of this letter.
I will see Der Rosenkavalier—my favorite opera—next month, but I will approach it with trepidation. In Gottes Namen, what have you done to this beloved opera?
354A Pasadena Ave.
South Pasadena, Ca. 91030