After digging around and using my Google-fu, I found this:


This is a collage from Marius Felix Lange‘s winning version of Am Südpol, denkst man, ist es heiß. Quite competent, of course, and clearly more in line (performing forces-wise) with the needs of the children’s component of the Köln Oper than mine. And probably more in line with their house style.

To give you a good idea of what you’re hearing, the opening is the Overture, followed by what I’ve called “It’s a Cold Life.” I was about to comment that it was fun that he too chose a raucous Latin overture, riffing off of the “South” Pole thing, but then I remembered that the libretto stipulates that. Uncle Otto shuts the orchestra down with a command to play something “cold,” if I remember correctly. Mine continues with a direct quote from Act III of La Bohéme, which of course is set in the dead of winter. (I used the orchestra as another character, tweaking the stodgy Uncle Otto whenever possible. For example, for his solo about his broken violin, they snarkily played Wagner’s Fate motif until he squawked.)

The differences are interesting, of course. Lange’s interpretation of the frozen wasteland of the opening sounds much more dire than mine, which is populated by bright, cartoony penguins. I think my approach was much more American in its humor, with musical punchlines and gags. I wondered at the time if any of that would translate.

The next bit is the scene where Leo sees the Opera Boat coming, i.e., “It’s Here!” Lange’s setting probably makes the tenor feel better about showing his voice off; mine seems a bit more ecstatic.

The next bit is on the Opera Boat, with the opera singers vying for roles and preeminence. The bit where the tenor tries to take over the baritone’s solo from Act II of Traviata is a nice bit of European vaudeville.

That’s followed by Leo and Lotte realizing they may have feelings for each other, my “Young Love” bit. Again, his is more “operatic.” Mine begins with a hesitant little back-and-forth, deliberately reminiscent of the Papageno/Papagena duet at the end of Magic Flute, and segues into the whole community of penguins joining in. I thought it would be a nice touch to have the adults bring on “grown up” suits for the juveniles, as they prepare to see the opera.

The last bit before the little coda is the penguins’ chorus before the opera itself starts. I haven’t shared my version of that.

I’d love to hear Lange’s paean to music. I am fairly sure that it does not come close to being as infectious as mine. (The orchestra passed sombreros and serapes up to the stage, and even Uncle Otto had to join in the fun. Palm trees appeared from somewhere, and everyone danced. Yes, those are steel drums.)

Anyone want to get tickets for next month?

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