Naked Opera – The Movie

“Naked Opera” tells the story of a man with many faces. Marc is talented, intelligent, eloquent and wealthy but has suffered from an incurable illness from childhood. He considers himself to be a kind of Don Giovanni from Luxembourg and is permanently on the lookout for the perfect staging for his life and the perfect production of his favourite opera. Each weekend he escapes his everyday haute bourgeois life by travelling the world in search of the ultimate “Don Giovanni” performance. Marc surrounds himself with beautiful young men, stays at the best hotels in the world, and enjoys the pleasures of decadence.

Director Angela Christlieb accompanies Marc on a journey from Luxembourg to Venice during which Marc falls in love with a young actor. In “Naked Opera” she succeeds in making a confrontational as well as intimate portrait of a tragic and fascinating person. “Naked Opera” is visually impressive — a film immersed in both a brilliant intellect and a hedonistic universe.

Interview with Angela Christlieb


How did you get the film and how did the idea to make a film about Marc Rollinger?

It was not originally my idea, but there was already a script that was developed among others by Philipp Reimer. Philip is Luxembourg and Marc learned during a production of Don Giovanni at the Berlin Opera know. She took a fancy right away and put some commonalities: both come from Luxembourg, love opera and have the International Women’s Day birthday. He found Marc so exciting that he started, together with Patricia Prince to write a screenplay. On the diagonal, 2011, I learned the producer Bady Minck know. They sent me to a synopsis of the film and asked me how I would find that. I was immediately impressed by the story. My first reaction was: this movie I want to see in any case, when he’s done. A little later she asked me if I wanted to direct this film. I dropped everything and lie and am moved within days from Vienna to Luxembourg. There I first researched intensively with Marc, continue working on the script and started relatively fast to turn.

What fascinated you about the subject matter and to the person?

I was fascinated right away that it is a very unusual story. She plays in a world to which I usually do not have access. The world of luxury and expensive hotels in conjunction with Opera and Escort Boys. In contrast, Marc, the man who has to deal with an incurable auto-immune disease, which overshadowed his life, and still in love with a porn actor. That was for me from the beginning a very intense theme with various facets and levels. What interested me most was this parallel world, in which Marc moved. I wanted to meet.
Although I am not a big Opernkennerin, the figure of Don Giovanni is very captivating for me, because he has power over others and him are all succumbed. That Marc just identified with this opera, is clear when one gets to know him better. He needs the game of power and control over others, like the air we breathe. This not only has to do with his illness, but it contributes to a great extent, because he does not want to be the loser by his physical suffering. He is acutely aware that he was provoked by his self-dramatization and his outing. But he has enough self-irony, to be happy about extreme reactions. I like that and I admire him.

The film consists of individual stations. Where do these? Were the places discussed due to the script with Marc or originated these spontaneously during filming? So how did it happen that you have traveled with Mark in common across Europe?

Marc’s passion is to travel there, where Don Giovanni is listed and this young “companion” to invite who he meets on the spot. His travels lead him crisscrossing Europe. But not beyond, because it’s him because of his illness too risky to make long air travel. There also other places were originally provided in the script, but I had to then judge, in which cities Don Giovanni was actually played during the period of the schedule. I wanted to make in any case in Venice, because this city is visually spectacular, is for me to Don Giovanni, as the film excerpts from Joseph Losey’s play “Don Govanni” in Venice. We were lucky that there were further performances in Vienna and in Berlin. There were other cities where Don Giovanni was staged, but I, I have focused on Venice, Vienna and Berlin. To me, these three cities were a very nice contrast because they are very different.

You and your camera crew are very present in the film. Sometimes you get the feeling that you engaged in the story and certain situations provoked. This is different from your film many classic documentaries that are more observant or questioning. How much did you actually controlled events?

It was not planned from the beginning, that I and the film crew will be featured in the film. On the contrary, I wanted to be present when the the film originally. I did not even know that my voice is heard.
Then the shooting have developed meaning that Marc wanted to exercise absolute control over the film. He wanted to determine what will be rotated, which resulted in some conflict situations. If it did not go according to his will, he threatened with denial. Filming with Marc were a big challenge for me. In order to get reactions and “real” feelings from him, I had to surprise him with scenes to distract him. A simple trick was to invite him young attractive men and always to provide sufficient champagne in the fridge. This has meant that he has forgotten his self-presentation and control for a while and he himself was.
During the cut, it turned out that this power game had become an important part of the film between him and the film crew and had to be addressed in the film. In the first cut version I had introduced a few of these moments in the film. The audience reactions were so positive that we have strengthened this side of the film.

You work with a lot of visual resources like time-lapse, image slices etc. How much did you intervene in the movie, in the story thus, and you can even call it an intervention?

I see my visual style such as fast motion, jump cuts or picture-in-picture montages not as intervention in history, but as a means of artistic expression, as an opportunity to work with different levels of perception and time. I had the idea that the film between staging and reality to move, just as the story between the fictional character and the real Marc Marc moved from the beginning. I wanted to create illusory spaces and use visual style means to do so, to move into these spaces.
For example, I have pictures of the hospital doors, going through the Marc mounted with pictures of Luxembourg Pavilions at the Venice Biennale. Marc passes through a glass room in a white room with surreal furniture whose legs are broken. This creates room for associations, which can cause irritation in the audience. This describes a mental state that is produced solely by the installation of images and sounds. This may seem like an intervention in the reality look like. I find, however, that one need not make documentaries strictly dogmatic to 1 reality: 1 mapping, but freedom can allow you to play with levels of reality.
At this point, I want a big thank you to my production company AMOUR FOU and Bady Minck issue that has supported me through their artistic approach is to be able to work experimentally. Similarly to the Film Fund Luxembourg, which has enabled me to these clearances, and to my editor Pia Dumont.