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I finally made it into that prestigious opera house and I saw and heard an utterly stunning performance. As much as I love Shakespeare, the composer outperformed the playwriter. Guiseppe Verdi had flirted with the idea, he had even commissioned a libretto, but in the end, nothing came to it. Too big, too complex, too many characters, too many plots. Reimann consulted a librettist he trusted, Claus H. Henneberg, and both sat to work to create one of the most successful modern operas.
Lear divides his kingdom up between two of his three daughters. Cordelia, the third daughter who loves her father more than her sisters, is married to the Kind of France and loses her rights as an heir. The two sisters try to get rid of Lear and banish him in turn. Accompanied by a fool and the disguised and still loyal Earl of Kent, Lear errs through the highlands in the midst of a storm and sinks into a desperate folly.
Gloster had banished Edgar after his illegitimate son Edmund had convinced him that Edgar is plotting against him. Seeing Tom makes Lear realize that he has become a beggar himself through the many mistakes he has made. Gloster later joins the group and escorts Lear to Dover, where the French army and Cordelia have landed. They blind him and recruit Edmund to raise an army against Lear. Lear seeks refuge with Cordelia and the French army, but the French are defeated, Cordelia and Lear taken prisoner.
Cordelia is being strangled in prison, while one of the evil sisters is poisoning the other and killing herself thereafter. Edgar takes revenge upon his brother Edmund in a duel. Lear breaks down, his heart broken, his soul traumatized: The sober, dark stage set, designed by Rebecca Ringst and made of rough black wooden planks, let the audience focus on the acting and the music.
The setting, suggested through the costumes, is the 21st century world. Lear reveals his other, more humane, side when he shares his few belongings with of the beggar Tom in an act of brotherly tenderness. The compassion of a loving daughter forgiving her disoriented father is one of the few instances were good is triumphing over evil. Outstanding is how I would describe the soprano singer Erika Sunnegard in the role of Regan. The obscene hypocrisy of her when — while undressing — she first seduces her father and then throws him out of the house act 1 or the murderous lust in her eyes when she strangles a servant with her nylon tights act 2 , illustrates the brutality that pervades the opera.