The Bavarian State Opera proves that it is absolutely essential to perform Sergei Prokofiev’s opera “War and Peace” now.
In the Munich National Theater, the Russian general looks like the drunk boss of a motorcycle gang, his rhetoric, like that of all generals, drips with patriotism when singing enemy bashing: “The beast is mortally wounded by the entire Russian force.” And so it goes on and on. But the makers of Sergei Prokofiev’s opera War and Peace have eliminated this and many other warmongering speeches from the libretto, which is based on Leo Tolstoy’s more monstrous novel of the same name. Primarily to make this hybrid piece playable in times of war, which first tells a love story that fails with a crash, then screeches wildly from the battlefields of Napoleon’s Russian campaign. At the time, Prokofiev had the German invasion of Russia in mind, today no one in the National Theater can avoid thinking about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. So it was quite risky to put on this rarely performed piece of political theatre. It was also not foreseeable that the audience would react so positively to the performance.