“Teschek, bedien dich”!
You really cannot escape the fact that Mandryka’s words, endlessly repeated by Graf Waldner, settle in your ears like the proverbial earworm. ‘Teschek, bedien dich‘ sings Mandryka as he pulls out his thick wallet and holds out banknotes, like chocolates, in front of his father-in-law-to-be.
For those not so familiar with “Viennese”, Teschek is not only a person who is always on the losing end, but also a card game and perhaps a “delicate” reference to the count’s addiction, which has left the family financially ruined, the youngest daughter having to go through life dressed as a boy and the eldest, Arabella, to be sold to the highest bidder. Well, in a manner of speaking.
How well do you know the opera? Honestly! I’m the first to admit it: until recently, I knew this opera only so-so. Once I saw it (and forgot about it), once I heard something wonderful on the radio (Lucia Popp and Bernd Weikl! I still haven’t managed to get hold of that recording), a snippet here and there …. Nothing more. Nice little snippet, though.
But now, after a few weeks on “an Arabella diet” I have become a real worshipper. Why is that? Mainly because of the libretto, I think. The opera is seen as a light comedy, a kind of fairy tale where everything is going to be all right at the end. But is that really the case? I think not. Actually, it’s not a fun opera at all. Because let’s face it: everybody is cheating on everybody here and the chances of anyone ending happily ever after are just as high as in Snow White.
To start with Zdenka, the almost “discarded” daughter: do you actually think Matteo has suddenly come to love her? Well, I don’t! He has to marry her because she lured him into her bed. And that, even though he thought she was a man. Anyway, Mandryka is paying, and since everything in this opera is about money…
Anyway, relax and sit back, because the opera is more than worth it. And there are so many good performances out there!