Häuserl am Oasch – Bravo!

I can’t get my tongue around the dialect, but I do understand Wienerisch to some extent. Häuserl am Oasch last night at the Rabenhof was more than the sum of its “wienerisch” parts. A rock opera? Yes, if you like your rock indy. Opera? Well, not quite. It wasn’t all song. But the music of Ernst Molden’s band pervaded it as did the layered texts of Ernst Molden himself. Not just a songwriter, but also a writer, playwright, player with write.

A simple plot: an old miserable innkeeper longing for death in the form of one of the trees of his beloved Vienna Woods needs his daughter to find Mr Right, have a son, so that he can go. But there are socio-political layers served with Viennese black humour at the inn, Häuserl am Oasch. (Any translation would indeed betray the original – with Häuserl – small house, or even outhouse with touches of melancholy; and Oasch – arse, but also broken, at the end of (the world), on the edge of (life) with nowhere to go…?)

And there were shades of Seneca with ghosts, lyrical passages and rhetorical oratory*; Wienerlied melancholy, wine, fear of the bogey man who was to blame for dogs being shot, and anything else, even children possibly being molested, much of all this though more in the mind. There was the upper-class lower-origins widow and her pining for order, served in song and choral-like readings with references to Dr Karl Lueger and the good old days. There was the policeman needing his scapegoat phantom to avoid real police work and justify a small mindset of envy and insularism. And there was love. But it was not sacherin-sweet love, more one with a kick of horseradish in its left-handed humour. Obscure details from local history added to the layers of socio-political satire meted out through the rough velvet of Molden’s words. Those words can be heard on the CD of the same name as this fairytale from the Vienna Woods, but this time all rendered by the voice of the master.

An ingenious and simple set design and its lighting brought it all together with an almost palimpsest of time and genres – Molden and his band, spiders and hearts, (dis)appearing silhouettes through a screen.

Even if I didn’t undertsand Wienerisch, it would have been an interesting musical adventure. But I’m glad I did, and wish I really might understand better, since I bet there were even more layerlets to explore. Now to listen to the CD, Häuserl am Oasch.

* “ghosts, lyrical passages and rhetorical oratory” from wikipedia