Handel’s Semele is rehashed as the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky story

Handel’s Semele is rehashed as the Bill Clinton-Monica Lewinsky story


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2017

It’s the latest in German shlock opera – a staging of Semele by director Floris Visser in Karlsruhe, at the Badisches Staatstheater, recast as the tawdry affairs of a former president.


Jennifer France plays Lewinsky, Ed Lyon is the prez.

Yes, that’s just how it was.



  • Tony says:

    Been there – done that – NYCO staging 2006 , JFK as Jupiter and Marilyn Monroe as Semele . Stephen Lawless Director , Anthony Baker Designer , nothing new under the sun!

  • Alexander says:

    ( trying to emulate Peter ) – “o tempora o mores ” …..
    any way the singing should be quite O’k, as for the staging … will they show some “particular evidences” of Lewinsky-Clinton affair to the audience or what ? 🙂 …. Semele – I have some records with Ruth Ann Swenson, could hardly imagine her in the production like that ….

  • Anonymous says:

    A metaphor for the Badisches Staatstheater itself: 25 years behind the times and mired in administrative controversy.

  • herrera says:

    A counter-tenor Marine, now that was shocking.

    Usually one can’t find good looking svelt opera singers to fill the roles of the likes of Rodolfo or Mimi but here, they couldn’t find … how to put it… average size and looking opera singers to be Clinton and Monica?

    It’s not a dig against opera singers, it’s just that if Clinton looked like the positively hot and hunky Ed Lyon, even the Republicans would’ve forgiven him.

  • Sixtus says:

    I wonder how they staged the last scene, where Jupiter reveals his enormous . . . powers.

  • Christiane Kloepfer says:

    I saw the play last night. It was fun and the singers excellent. The majority of the audience enjoyed the play and left with the theatre with happy faces.

    • Roberto Torretti says:

      I’ve also watched the play in a video, and I loved Jennifer France’s singing and acting and found the staging most apt. That the singers do not resemble Lewinsky and Clinton is perfectly irrelevant, since there is no need to identify with any particular president or anecdote this satire on U.S. presidential megalomania.

  • Christiane Hein says:

    “One can report a great opera happening from Karlrsuhe”


  • Sophie says:

    Last night we went to see Semele and it was great! The singers were brilliant and I loved the scenery. Looking forward to the next Händel-Festspiele!

  • Mara says:

    Great Play!!! Go and watch it!!

  • Luke says:

    I saw the performance last Sunday. Amazing presentation – and outstanding: the Deutsche Händelsolisten! This is not to be missed… there are only 3 (i think) perforemances…

  • Nick says:

    what a brillant cinematic production. best semele i’ve ever seen.

  • Tim Steinman says:

    25 years behind the times? Well… theatre is developing. And I think Badisches Staatstheater is a tried place for movement in Musical theatre…

  • Christiane Hein says:

    “Glamorous opening of the 40th International Händel-Festival … the audiance celebrated this anniversary production with never ending applause”


  • Holly Golightly says:

    You mean Clinton didn’t just TALK about grabbing someone’s pussy?

    • Gerhard says:

      You got it wrong. Whatever he may have done, he NEVER talked about “grabbing someone’s pussy”. You must confuse him somehow with some other president …