Kids, don't try this at home!
I am sure that most people are familiar with Rossini's opera William
Tell. Its overture has become a cross-cultural icon.
But William Tell is not the only opera to use Switzerland as a back-
drop. Here are a few lesser-known ones.
Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious by Klaus Mannheim.
This opera is set at the Zurich Institute. Carl Jung, a psychiatrist,
handles the case of Ludwina, a poor repressed girl with a severe
neurosis stemming from a childhood bicycle accident. Jung helps
her to tune in on her undiscovered Self and to escape her horrible
fear of tires and sex.
Gothic by Robert Goldman.
This opera is based on the movie by Ken Russell and follows the
dark wanderings of Lord Bryon, Percy Shelley, and Mary Shelley
during a debauched weekend at a Swiss villa. Will they fall prey
to their Satanic desires? Only the score knows for sure.
MDRTB by Sherman Berg.
This avant garde atonal opera is based on Thomas Mann's The Magic
Mountain. It follows the stay of various patients at a Swiss hospital
as they recuperate from Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis. Comic
moments ensue as the patients fall repeatedly in love and out of love
with each other and struggle to keep down the incredibly bad food.
Girl's Dormitory by Charles Kelso.
This opera tells the story of Lucy, a nubile teenager attending an
all-girls private school in Bern. Lucy falls in love with her professor,
Dr. Marceau. But when he does not return her affections she writes love
letters to him supposedly revealing their affair. When the Dean of the
school finds the letters Dr. Marceau is chastised and Lucy is taken into
the Dean's office, where she is required to bend over the desk for a
good caning on her bare bottom. Afterwards, imagining the caning, Dr.
Marceau confesses his new desires to Lucy, who quickly takes advantage
of the situation and lets Dr. Marceau cane her bottom after classes. But
when the Dean finds out of their affair Lucy is taken in for another
good caning. Girl's Dormitory was banned in the United States from
1942 to 1959, primarily for excessive caning.