Verdi opera with 35 naked seniors sells out

The ruins of the World Trade Center and naked senior citizens wearing Mickey Mouse masks will share a stage Saturday, when a German theatre's sell-out reinterpretation of a Verdi opera opens.

Verdi opera with 35 naked seniors sells out
It's not a German opera unless someone's naked. Photo: DPA

The Erfurt Theatre’s production of “A Masked Ball” will feature 35 naked seniors wearing masks of the Disney character throughout the performance.

“It’s a very beautiful, poetic scene,” Guy Montavon, the theatre’s general manager, told AFP. Sixty local senior citizens applied for one of the on-stage roles, Montavon said.

The 1859 opera is no stranger to controversy. Giuseppe Verdi wrote it about the 1792 assassination of Swedish king Gustavus III, who was shot while attending a masked ball.

Nineteenth century censors demanded that Verdi move the opera’s setting from Europe to colonial America so as not to depict the assassination of a European monarch.

The United States remains the setting for Austrian director Johann Kresnik’s re-imagined opera, but this version is set in the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

“The concept is a little critical about America, the world of America with very rich people, very poor people, with war and the excesses of American society today,” Montavon said.

An Erfurt politician has called for a boycott of the production but local theatergoers have not heeded his call. Theatre manager Montavon told AFP the Saturday premiere and four other performances had already sold out.