People get the idea that opera is a serious medium. If you don't present serious ideas in meaningful productions, what is the excuse for it?
Lulu is an opera that is difficult to interpret. Lulu is woman, but what is woman? Must I turn it into a feminist manifesto? Or can I present it as itself and let the chips fall where they may?
Does Lulu merely stand at the center of her life while fantasizing about dancing, as in the Hannigan production? Does she maintain her innocence in the midst of other people's expectations? Does her sexuality exist only in other people's imaginations?
In the West Edge Lulu she adorns herself in seductive, sensual garments, sometimes consisting only of underwear, sometimes of nothing at all. Her hair changes. It's big, it's little, it's a blond fro or it hangs down. It changes to red and then mousy brown.
I noticed in this production, which I had certainly not noticed before, that her constant costume and wig changes were assisted by a small woman who hovered in almost every scene. I thought that this was just something that fit the production. She needed help so they gave her some. Then I went to Wikipedia and was browsing through the cast list where I saw...
A theatrical dresser, contralto
Oh. Revise. I didn't notice that she said anything. The light bulb went on. The seductive trappings are the explanation for everything. Perhaps the dresser was originally intended for the scene concerning Lulu's theatrical career, but suddenly it pervaded most of the opera.
This is the real Lulu, the woman whose sexual encounters are not seeming coincidences, but are the result of erotic intention. At one spot she masturbates while exclaiming her notes as though they were real sex sounds.
At the end she turns into a middle-aged drab. A drab who somehow recalls her previous life enough to allow her to be a prostitute.