Pinsky, who served as U.S. poet laureate from 1997 to 2000 and teaches at Boston University, pares away hours of exposition from the work of playwright-historian Schiller to relate in concise scenes the commander’s break with Emperor Ferdinand in Vienna and in the interest of peace, his loyalty shift to the enemy Swedes. Wallenstein’s generals of various nationalities — German, Italian, Irish, Bohemian, Croatian — gather around him and smartly, we are given no indication of their diverse ethnicities; no one puts on even the trace of a foreign accent.
It’s a war, in fact, that might have been dreamed up by Brecht: You can’t tell which side anyone is on, a perception that’s reinforced by the rapid conversions from ally to adversary that occur in Wallenstein’s opportunistic war room. Wiliest is his old comrade in arms Octavio Palladini (Robert Sicular), whose motives are as Byzantine as the Roman catacombs. And the purest heart belongs to Octavio’s son Max (Nick Dillenburg), whose love for Wallenstein’s daughter Thekla (Aaryn Kopp) conveniently fits into the schemes of Countess Czerny (Diane D’Aquila), Wallenstein’s sister and the wife of one of his self-serving generals.