Internet
May 1, 2005
Los Angeles Downtown News
Kristin Friedrich
That Risqué Opera Ad
The ad campaign for the L.A. Opera's upcoming Der Rosenkavalier has generated a lot of talk.
In Richard Strauss' opera, aging aristocrat Marschallin beds the young Octavian. But Octavian's a mezzo-soprano, played by a lady in what opera calls a "trouser role." Helnwein just took the trousers out. In the ad, the women's expressions are tender and their lips mere millimeters apart. Helnwein isn't surprised by the scuttlebutt in the normally staid opera world. "I'm used to it," Helnwein said. "It always happens with my work. I don't intend it really, but it happens. I think it has to do with the fact that middle class people usually don't want anything to change. If it could, everything would freeze and stay the same way forever. But artists are very annoying, disturbing guys. They always want to change and mess something up.
The ad campaign for the L.A. Opera's upcoming Der Rosenkavalier has generated a lot of talk. Downtown artist Gottfried Helnwein, who is designing the production's costumes and sets, also came up with the poster - using two models, a little makeup, and the power of suggestion.
Calm down, it's an opera ad. Artwork by Gottfried Helnwein.
In Richard Strauss' opera, aging aristocrat Marschallin beds the young Octavian. But Octavian's a mezzo-soprano, played by a lady in what opera calls a "trouser role." Helnwein just took the trousers out. In the ad, the women's expressions are tender and their lips mere millimeters apart.
Helnwein isn't surprised by the scuttlebutt in the normally staid opera world.
"I'm used to it," Helnwein said. "It always happens with my work. I don't intend it really, but it happens. I think it has to do with the fact that middle class people usually don't want anything to change. If it could, everything would freeze and stay the same way forever. But artists are very annoying, disturbing guys. They always want to change and mess something up.
"This is a very famous and beloved opera. Everybody likes it. In the story, there is a woman, she's 35 I think, and she has an 18-year-old lover. That's the piece, it's not my imagination. The only thing I do is look at that, and show a lady kissing another lady. Strauss is to blame, not me! It's just two girls being close."
Der Rosenkavalier plays at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion May 29-June 19, 135 N. Grand Ave., (213) 972-8001 or laopera.com.




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