Maximilian Schell, the commanding Austrian-born actor who died Saturday at 83, is being remembered in obituaries for his long movie career, especially his Oscar-winning role in “Judgment at Nuremberg.” In Los Angeles, audiences had the good fortune to appreciate another side of Schell -- opera director.
In his review of “Lohengrin,” Times music critic Mark Swed described the staging as “a major achievement” and wrote that “Schell’s production is grim and intelligent, with a strong dose of brutal realism bringing dramatic point to Wagner’s mythic drama.”
Schell employed edgy artist Gottfried Helnwein to create sets and costumes for his production of “Rosenkavalier.” The poster for the production generated some local buzz for its portrayal of two women who looked like they were about to kiss.
In an interview with The Times during rehearsals, Schell explained: “These are our times. ‘The L Word,’ for instance, is shown all over Europe. For another, you cannot keep the present off the stage."
Schell directed stage productions throughout Europe and was an accomplished theater actor. He appeared in a Broadway production of “Judgment at Nuremberg” in 2001.
Domingo recalled that he and Schell shared not only a passion for opera, but for soccer. Here is a statement sent by Domingo, through his representative, in which the tenor remembers his friendship with Schell:
“Maximilian Schell was a great talent but he was also my friend. It was a great pleasure to spend his 80th birthday with him and to see the love and respect everyone had for him. When I think of Max, I particularly remember the friendly rivalry of the soccer matches we played in Salzburg during the festival. One summer, I even sprained my thumb making a goal; Max always claimed later that he had let me score. When I brought him to L.A. Opera, he gave us two striking productions, ‘Lohengrin’ and ‘Der Rosenkavalier.’ I had hoped to bring him back to our theater. He was a great artist and my dear friend. I will miss him very much.”