Latvian director Alvis Hermanis, best known for his acclaimed productions of Die Soldaten and Gawain at the Salzburg Festival, sets Mozart’s famous ménage-a-quatre in a modern-day art restoration studio. The two pairs of lovers touch up chastely erotic rococo paintings. We see much of this (often-kitschy) work via canvas reproductions or video projection. Not only do the incognito fiancés sport velvet baroque costumes and powdered wigs, they also woo in Italian, puncturing a hole in the German-language translation.
The whole production seems intimate, very much a chamber piece squarely focused on the five main characters. Indeed, the only other performers on stage are white coated extras who silently restored frescos on both sides of the stage, oblivious to the onstage drama. Forgoing a choir, the soldiers’ chorale “Bella vita militar” is piped in as a radio broadcast.