Dear Addison DeWitt once said, “You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point.” Actually he didn’t say it to La Cieca, but that’s neither here nor there. Since your doyenne is what you might call pathologically determined to see both sides of every questions, she’s going to reopen the can of worms here on the “disgusting” Ballo production that just opened in Erfurt.
There’s a gallery online including over 200 images from the staging, and your doyenne has to admit that the naked oldsters in the Mickey Mouse masks don’t seem quite so arbitrary when seen in context, particularly when that context includes a rather spectacular nip slip on the part of the rather spectacular Adina Aaron. (What is it with La Cieca and the bazooms today?)
Okay, so here’s La Cieca’s attempt at what she might laughingly call exegesis. Regisseur Johann Kresnik seems to be working the angle that the “America” specified in the libretto is one of those post-apocalyptic landscapes recognizable from bad science fiction movie made in the 1980s. While Riccardo and his court have survived with some level of luxury and privilege, everybody else in town is doing pretty poorly, e.g., crawling around in radioactive ash in the nude. The implication (which La Cieca admits she doesn’t find anywhere in the text either) is that while the rich and powerful play at their love affairs, the underprivileged are lucky to find a Disney character mask to call their own.
Like Mr. DeWitt said, the point may well be idiotic, but, well . . . it’s a point.