Diary of Anne Frank: an Opera

This 1 and half an hour opera by Siam Opera has left me depressed through the ride home. Simply everything to do with genocide, or other babaric acts can leave me feeling empty, however this opera was kind of different.

The theatre, which was at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC), was perfect for this small monodrama opera. The stage was a tout petit stage in a small hall filled with Bangkok’s theatre enthusiasts and also some social activists too. It set the mood as if we were sitting in the attic with the characters.

The soprano, who portrayed Anne Frank, had a beautiful voice range and did not make it seem awkward when she sang in the low pitches or went crystal high to imitate a voice of a young girl.

The other characters did not sing though, due to the opera being a monodrama, even though I think some scenes would have been more colourful if they had sang too. However, I do understand that the director (?) must have wanted to respect the fact that ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’ was narrated only by Anne Frank, therefore the main lead would be the only one singing and seemed to be the only who had colourful costumes and an animated character. The others were only dressed in black and white, and their actions were sometimes zombie-like.

Well, in fact the monotone hues did add more depression to the production.

Changing scenes was perhaps a highlight of the play. It gave an effect of changing camera angles in a movie, but at first you might be bothered with the backstage crew with the sawastika arm bands moving in and out to change the props. It was not until the last third of the performance that I got used to these manual changes.

Although I was a bit annoyed with the frequent prop and background changes, I did like the stage design where the director chose to put the ensemble on the stage too. The sight of the conductor controlling the musicians led me to think of how this dreadful story was controlled by the evil ideas that flowed in the ‘Arayan’ Germany back then. The wanting to be the ‘fittest’ nation in Europe, and also perhaps the world, led the Nazis into eliminating these neicht liebenswert. 

The ending of the opera was magnificent. It ended when Anne Frank was standing on some stool, trying to climb and escape but was captured and surrounded by Nazi guards. The message of hope and freedom certainly was marked upon the audiences’ hearts.

 

 

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