The heavens have smiled on us today, friends. Oh, happy Thursday!

“Have you seen this picture of Helene in the Tonhalle Dusseldorf brochure?” my friend Andy e mailed this morning.

And no, no I had not.

I’m not sure if she’s supposed to be some kind of romance novel Little Red Riding Hood,

…or perhaps Poison Ivy?

Das rotkäppchen, Helene’s title, translates to The Wolf, so I guess she is, in fact, supposed to be Little Red Riding Hood because of her wolf conservation efforts? Although wolves are demonized in Little Red Riding Hood, so she’s not going to like that!

The season brochure, which can be seen it its entirety here, also gives Gustavo Dudamel and Anne-Sophie Mutter the anime treatment.

Gustavo Dudamel, who appears to be a thinner version of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast:

And Anne-Sophie Mutter, who is somewhere between She-Ra: Princess of Power and Wonder Woman:

“Virtuosen in Unterhosen” means “Virtuoso in Panties”. WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING HERE. At least Mutter’s underwear has an eighth note on it? Keepin’ it classy!

More power to them. (more SUPERPOWER). I hope they sell many, many tickets to unsuspecting concert-goers who think Helene is going to wear a skin-tight green cat suit and a red cape while she plays the piano. Oh, and also who think that she can fly.

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  1. says

    As an American who has lived in Germany for over 30 years, I suspect there might be more at work in the brochure than you mention. It is probably, at least in part, ironic German commentary on the American music industry, its culture of celebrity artists, and its obsession with marketing (often on the cheesey side) as an Ersatz for public arts funding and arts education. In any case, Europeans love to make such multi-dimensional plays on American culture. BTW, Unterhosen is more along the lines of underwear than panties. Afterall, we wouldn’t want to think of Gustavo the Wunderkind as a cross-dresser – though that would probably sell a few tickets too.

    But none of the three artists they made into superheroes are American! -AA

  2. Paul says

    As another American who lived in Germany, I can tell it’s obviously meant to be humorous. The title is “Heroes of the stage, or Virtuosos in underwear”. Then it goes on to list the “origin” and “superstrength” of each hero. (Also, “rotkappchen” does not mean wolf, it means “little red cap”, their way of saying red riding hood.) I am fairly certain there won’t be any unsuspecting ticket buyers who take it literally.

    • Sarah says

      Agreed! Why read so much into it (or maybe not enough)? I don’t claim to know a lick of German, but just by looking over the whole brochure (instead of just in the context of this article) you can tell they’re just trying to have a bit of fun. There’s definitely nothing wrong with that in the world of classical music marketing!

  3. says

    The title clearly refers to the 1993 movie “Robin Hood: Men in Tights” (so I have some guesses about the author’s age), which in turn is a mock about the vesting of Superman et al.

    From what I can decipher:
    “Heroes of the stage – or virtuosi in underpants
    They master the shoals of the most complex compositions (…)
    and enchant the audience with (…)
    But from what do the modern heroes of the stage get their (…)
    and where lie their possible weaknesses? It’s about time to take a look under their tailcoats.”

    I think it’s a great idea from Tonhalle. Although it’s always problematic to bring pop culture references that are some days older (cf. the xkcd comic at

    By the way, Héléne Grimaud being portrayed as “Little Red Riding Hood” isn’t that bad. Lang Lang is called “Lightweight” on the same page.

    Anne-Sophie Mutter reportedly liked the brochure (, even if it holds lines like “Super weakness: (…) Her tone, vibrato-saturated and smoothed, indeed appears somewhat hypercorrect, a supspicion fueled by excessively self-controlled emphasis”. IMHO a dangerously true mocking.

    I’d really like to get hold of a copy of this.