Junker Ernest advances to Liseli, but ignores her, much to Bärenwirt’s dismay. Text: Daniel Rainer
Booming cowbells give the audience the illusion of festive cattle drive. Signau farmers come to “Bär” convinced: “Farmers must live off the juice of the vines!” Bärewirt’s daughter Leslie has her hands full as she wets her dry throat. Suddenly two pairs of eyes meet: Fritz Spots Leslie, Leslie discovers Fritz, and time seems to be standing still. The mood is exuberant, the musicians are playing to dance, the wine is flowing …
But something seems to be spitting the poetess into the soup. For a long time, farmers were suffering from the burden of record. Mishi, the pottery dealer, knows a thing or two about her. At the behest of the warden, Hatschiere beat him with a stick. Audiences can experience Michi’s shameful punishment in this technologically advanced flashback. Only a few farmers are still subject to the authorities. “Our Swiss house is in ruins, let’s build a new one,” they drink to each other.
Bärenwirt has other plans, as Junker Ernest, a glistening sticky dude, is keeping an eye on Liseli. The innkeeper calculates the advantages if the square will lead his daughter down the aisle. Shiny slime comes to the tavern on horseback and shines over Liseli, but he gets one basket after another. After being wounded in his questionable honor, Fritz is locked in a murder box for revenge. For the flutist, the castle lords polished the image of Ancien Régimes, standing on clay feet. Even the flutist gently pulls off the ruffle of his shirt.
Exhale Bernese Mars
Meanwhile, the French invaded Bern. The village is preparing for the Battle of Graywood. A sad figure, not unlike the Grim Reaper, moves across the stage set and lets his clarinet do the talking – in the background the organ plays Bernese’s March, where meaningful parts of Marseillaise are mixed.
Before that, they storm Signau Castle, chase Brow and Square to Hell and release Fritz. Fearless, Liseli joins the battle. The news could not win the battle, but the cunning tyrants left and love has a place in a new age.
Music with Karl Johannes Rechsteiner (clarinet, recorder) and Wolfgang Böhler (hand instrument) poignantly connect scenes with sounds from popular music to free improvisation. The castle’s baroque flute melody rightly received applause at the premiere. In the altered flag march, the impending war trembles, while at the end of the night rows of cows cry for death.
In the second half of performances from mid-July, the Schenk family from Signau will play part of the music with flute and Schwyzerörgeli.
Under the direction of Barbara Bircher and Angelo Neff, a touching play was created in strong Bernese German, and it was performed by more than 50 powerful actors. Perfect charisma with Helena Rindlisbacher costumes makes the piece in front of the Bären Inn a feast for the eyes. Above all, Sarah Bigler embodies her Leslie with amazing intensity. You don’t want to mess with Marco Lehmann as Fritz, because the farmer’s son, full of energy, has expressive eyes whose looks can kill off – of course not when he’s looking at Leslie. Vincennes Haldeman can get really excited like peddler Michi, who doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry.
The kidnappers also bring with them a strange joke, the kidnappers behave like a cucumber group in miniature. Moving through the story, Tobias Zurflüh is wonderfully hated, as Junker Ernest and leaves a trail of slime. Valentina Schweitzer as Annanalize wasn’t famous at first, but she holds your breath when she swings down a village street after the fight and points out that she was raped. Ten children of all ages play in a relaxed and natural way. And all the villagers and farmers fit perfectly into the land as if they had done nothing else.