The woman really did it: posters instead of programmes, PR stickers instead of cast lists and the Volksbühne was filled to capacity. It remains to be seen whether Florentina Holzinger's season opening "Ophelia's Got Talent" is just an outlier or whether director René Pollesch at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz is now acting with more fortune (and less of his own productions). In any case, the water spectacle, which the Austrian choreographer organized with twelve co-performers and six children, dives pretty deep in terms of cultural history.
Despite TV titles, some scenes built suspiciously close to the "Musikantenstadl" shore and the usual Holzinger folklore - this time: upper lip piercing with fish hooks - the evening was a success. On the one hand, this is thanks to the phenomenal actors who sell the usual Holzinger nudism for two hours as a downright chaste costume design. On the other hand, "Ophelia's Got Talent" plays with the pop, art and dance tradition without drifting to the soap opera level of the previous productions (namely the highly jazzed ballet bill "Tanz" and the hellish Dante variant "A divine comedy").
The moments of shock are softly padded.
With the Nixensabbath, the thirty-six-year-old Viennese plows through waters that are well documented in terms of dance history. From Jules Perrot's "Ondine" to Frederick Ashton's adaptation of a score by Hans Werner Henze of the same name to John Neumeier's "Little Mermaid", the dance history is teeming with extravagant ballerina roles. Pina Bausch and Sasha Waltz drew some of their best creations from the cool water, Meg Stuart has only just got half of Lake Zurich recorded. Florentina Holzinger brings both motifs together: just as important to her as the female elemental spirits are plastic-polluted oceans, global water shortages and drought catastrophes. "Ophelia's Got Talent" packs all of this into a three-part film consisting of a talent show, a psycho dive and a stormy finale with an orgiastic helicopter ride.
Nicola Knezević's stage design is also staggered in three parts: white seating for the trio of jurors in the front, a swimming pool in the middle, a huge Snow White coffin full of water in the back, in which the Holzinger crew cavorts towards the end of the event. It starts with three circus numbers: tightrope artist, sword swallower and escape artist. The Houdini trick in the glass deep sea tank fails, calculated of course. Which, in the form of the stage technology, results in the only male appearance of the evening. The jury - fabulous: Inga Busch from the in-house ensemble, Renée Copraij, Saioa Alvarez Ruiz - she plucks herself while Holzinger and his entourage slip into tap dancing shoes to pay tribute to Jerome Robbins' sailor saga "On the town". It is the prelude to the psycho chapter, which quotes Shakespeare's eponymous dead body, Schiller's "Taucher" and Schubert's "Trout Quintet" and explodes the female victim role. When Xana Novais recapitulates the story of a rape, while "The man I love" sounds from the off and fellow actors operate on a key from their vaginas, the violent impregnation of the Leda myth leads to an act of self-empowerment: women among themselves. The arrangement also reveals that Holzinger has learned how theatre works: The camera, which transmits the events to two screens attached to the stage portal, is not wedged between Novais' legs, but looks at her face. The horror occurs solely in the audience's heads.
The moments of shock are softly padded. Sometimes Hollywood's first lady appears to be rising with a bathing cap - Esther Williams - sometimes a 007 helicopter (without a man, without rotor blades) hovers out of the stage sky to rescue the mermaid crowd from the hurricane waves generated by the wind machine. Whereupon the ladies use the aircraft as an auto-erotic instrument. Strong ideas, strong images and, last but not least, a key scene in which La Holzinger adopts a cinematographic eye: sailor outfits and yellow coloring of the last sequences are reminiscent of Rainer Werner Fassbinder's sultry "Querelle" fantasy based on Jean Genet's template. Clever point of a piece that never drowns. Let's see if the Volksbühne tanker gets on course with it.