Like a ‘Lady Gaga of her time’, she kept reinventing herself
Over a hundred years ago, Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (Mata Hari’s real name) grew to become an internationally celebrated dancer. She was a star who wrapped all men around her little finger, but she was also a strong, individual woman, who was later accused of being a double agent and was executed in 1917. Her life had fascinated Ted Brandsen for years, mainly because of her ability to continually transform herself. As a young girl, wife, dancer, diva and spy, she threw herself into life and never gave up, despite the many setbacks she faced.
Together with librettist Janine Brogt, Brandsen developed a scenario that brings Zelle’s story to life in flamboyant, cinematic scenes. Act 1 sketches her youth and her unhappy marriage to officer Rudolphe MacLeod, which ended following the death of their two-year-old son. Thrown upon her own resources, Zelle leaves for Paris, where she creates a new version of herself as the exotic dancer Mata Hari. Her performances cause a sensation. In Act 2, which takes place on the eve of World War I, her success wanes and circumstances force her to offer her services as a spy – with fatal consequences.