Saturday, 26 August 2017

Musical Review – Ludwig 2

About the show:
Ludwig II: Longing for Paradise (Ludwig II: Sensucht nach dem Paradies) is a German musical in five acts with music by Franz Hummel and book and lyrics by Stephan Barbarino and Heinz Hauser.
The musical was presented at the lavish Festspielhaus Füssen, which was built for it at the edge of the lake below Neuschwanstein Castle. The musical was directed by Barbarino. The story concerns Bavaria's "Mad King" Ludwig II of Bavaria, who came to power in 1864 at the age of 18, lost a war against Prussia and spent his kingdom's fortune and sovereignty, and accumulated debts, to build extravagant castles and palaces and to sponsor Richard Wagner and other artists. Ludwig was declared insane and deposed in 1886, at the age of 41. He died the next day under suspicious circumstances.
The show immediately sold out to more than half a million tourists and Germans by the time of its premiere on April 7, 2000, and it was played year-round and seen by an additional one million audience members by 2003. The musical was performed in German with supertitles in English and other languages.

My opinion:
My mum saw the musical 11 years ago in Füssen at the Festspielhaus. When she saw that it’s on again, she came up with the idea to again, so I could see it. So we went. We also listened tot he songs and she told me all about the show and of course Jan Ammann, who played Ludwig. Luckily, we found out that he is in this role again, not every evening, but for our date, so we were especially looking forward to it.
The Festspiel Haus in Füssen is at a great location, you can see Neuschwanstein Castle across the lake and the building has a great architecture too.
Anyway, I was also excited to see Anna Hofbauer in the solo of Elizabeth, because I know her from TV and was very curious about her singing.
The musical tells the story of kind Ludwig the 2nd, how he became king, about his time as a king, his idea to build Neuschwanstein castle etc. It’s also about the war, his family, his love for his cousin Elizabeth and his mysterious death.
The first disappointment was that Jan Ammann was sick, so we had a different Ludwig. His name is Matthias Stockinger and he was brilliant. I absolutely adored his voice.
It was pretty obvious after a while that the orchestra didn’t play live, it was just playback and at times I even felt that the ensemble wasn’t singing live, the main actors yes, but not the ensemble. The conductor didn’t really conduct and it just didn’t sound vivid and playful. The songs sounded better on CD. It was also clear that they changed a lot from 2006. The songs and some lyrics, the staging, the stage setting and much more. That’s why the first act was a real disappointment. The had weird laser shows going on and everything seemed so simple. I’m glad I haven’t seen it 11 years ago, I probably would have been disappointed even more.
The second act was a lot better, especially because of certain songs, the singing and the emotions coming through them Matthias Stockinger was absolutely sensational, he has a phenomenal voice and the feelings really came through, especially when he sang “Kalte Sterne”, I also loved “Geliebte Berge” and “Freundschaft”. Ludwig sang “Freundschaft” with his friend Durkheim. Durkheim was played by Oedo Kuipers. I loved his voice and he was good looking too! Anna Hofbauer was good, but not more. Sometimes she had difficulties switching voice ranges, but her acting was great.
The only thing I liked about the scenery and the stage, was the water. There was a “real” little lake on stage and the really used it. The choreography was simple and easy, nothing special.
All in all, I’m glad I have seen it, because the story is really fascinating. There were disappointing facts about it, but equally great things as well. I also cried several times, because it was really emotional and that is always a good sign. 
Of course, it was also weird to see a German musical for me with german dialogue and German lyrics. With this one it just fits, because the story is set in Bavaria and all the characters are German. I just don't like it, when it's translated. 

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