The poet Nikolaus Lenau is one of the most fascinating artistic personalities of the Romantic period. A dramatist, political intellectual, guitarist and violinist, as well as the most successful lyricist of the Biedermeier period, he was a highly talented polymath. Lenau led a restless, intense life informed by his love for a succession of women before becoming mentally deranged in 1844, remaining in psychiatric care until his death in 1850. His most passionate and almost lifelong love affair was with Sophie von Löwenthal, the wife of his friend Max. With Sophie, Lenau maintained a dual correspondence that was split between “official” letters and unrestrainedly intimate messages.
The Swiss musician Heinz Holliger, one of today’s most important composers, was so drawn to Nikolaus Lenau’s transgressive life, work, ideas and sensibility that he made the figure of the poet the subject of his song Lunea, which was premièred by Christian Gerhaher five years ago at Zurich Opera House. Lunea in turn became the nucleus of a new opera about Nikolaus Lenau, which will now be premièred at Zurich Opera House.
Lenau-Szenen in 23 Lebensblättern by Heinz Holliger (*1939)
Musical director: Heinz Holliger
Librettist: Händl Klaus
Producer: Andreas Homoki
Stage design: Frank Philipp Schlössmann
Costumes: Klaus Bruns
Musical assistance: Michael Richter
Lighting designer: Franck Evin
Choir director: Raphael Immoos
Dramaturgy: Claus Spahn
Lenau: Christian Gerhaher
Sophie von Löwenthal: Juliane Banse
Anton Schurz: Ivan Ludlow
Marie Behrends/Karoline Unger: Sarah Maria Sun
Therese Schurz: Annette Schönmüller
Statistenverein am Opernhaus Zürich
World Premiere: 4 March 2018
oyster is a new opera (in progress) about a surprising precursor to last.fm and Pandora. In the 1960’s, renowned American folklorist Alan Lomax developed a wildly ambitious system called cantometrics for coding and analyzing folk songs from every corner of the world. The opera is structured as a public lecture of Alan Lomax’s folk song analysis as demonstrated by four singers, who embody the IBM360 mainframe computer used to correlate his vast amounts of data. Working with the BOTCH vocal ensemble, I am reconstructing the folksong styles from regions as disparate as Bali, West Africa, and Central America using only the data from Lomax’s study. Things like melodic complexity, vocal blend, and nasality, are adjusted by the singers as they circumnavigate the globe. This data vocalization is further mediated by the ensemble’s distinctive extended vocal techniques, and is accompanied by a film narrative that unravels connections between cybernetics, surrealism and ethnography. The film also features a wide range of material drawn from the Alan Lomax archive at The Library of Congress.
oyster will be performed on February 20 and 21 at 8pm (doors open at 7pm) at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Ave, Brooklyn. Tickets will be available to purchase shortly, at roulette.org.
Music, video, and libretto by Joe Diebes
Featuring: John Rose, Christina Campanella, Michael Chinworth, and Saori Tsukada
Live Staging: Phil Soltanoff
Lighting Design: Poe Saegusa
Cinematography for video: Damian Calvo
Make-Up/Costumes for video: Naomi Raddatz
This creation commemorates World War I and takes as point of departure the play FRONT (2014) by Luk Perceval. The American-Israeli composer Chaya Czernowin saw the performance and connected the theatrical experience of FRONT with the novella Homecoming by the Chinese author Can Xue. The result of this union is music theatre about opening new perspectives in a harrowing situation.
In FRONT, we see the soldiers in the trenches, caught in an unending battle and constantly exposed to death. In Homecoming it is a woman who happens to find her way to a house on the edge of an abyss and gradually realises that it is impossible for her to escape. Two situations in which the moment becomes dilated to the point of infinity.
Premiere April 18th, 2017
Opera Ballet Vlaanderen
In the artificially cut-off world of a show conceived as a mixture of circus and television entertainment which thrills its audience with so-called freax, people whose bodies do not correspond to the norm, a tragic love story unfolds. The dwarf Franz loves the tall, beautiful Isabella. But she is in love with Hilbert, the moderator of the show. Hilbert, for his part, loves great success. This is guaranteed by the freax – dwarfs, Siamese twins and hermaphrodites – who, not least due to their success with the public, are cut off and humiliated by their “normal” colleagues.
In a mixture of moving drama and biting satire, Franz‘ blind love and longing to escape permanent discrimination and to be accepted and loved as a man becomes a parable about the power of looks and about the fine line between hope and self-deception, closeness and betrayal.
Composer: Moritz Eggert
Lyricists: Hannah Dübgen
Staged world premiere: January 21st, 2017, Theater Regensburg
Martin Butler and Brandt Brauer Frick developed an abstract narrative that sees the cross-section of opera, modern dance, electronic music and fashion. The death of Gianni Versace is at the epicentre, portrayed through the decadent style of 1980s vogueing culture.
The themes are desire and adoration, the promise of youth and beauty, the trappings of power and riches and auguries of unlimited sexual potency. Fashion can be defined as the presentation of the individual in an everyday setting, a presentation in which semblance merges with reality. It is also the international world of runways and supermodels. A designer will be hailed as the high priest of this world if he can promise to fulfil an existential expectation of happiness and do so in a way that appeals to the spirit of the times. Gianni Versace was one such high priest, yet there have been few other cases of star designers where such a meteoric rise has been followed by such an abrupt and tragic end. His path from Calabrian tailor and buyer of fabrics to fashion empire mogul ended with his murder by male prostitute and serial killer Andrew Cunanan outside Versace’s villa on Ocean Drive, Miami.
Director: Martin Butler
Music: Brandt Brauer Frick & Matthias Engler
Set & Video Design: Shan Blume
Costume Design: And Beyond
Dramaturge: Sebastian Hanusa
Choreographer: Susanne Marx
Pythia: Claron McFadden
Medusa/John: Alexander Geist
House Mother: Amber Vineyard
Andrew: Seth Carcio
Dancers & Extras: Alexander Mugler, Fredrik Quinones, Tarren Johnson
Boiler Room broadcast directed by Robert Sieg.
Angst is an opera in three acts that stretch temporally and spatially over three stations: Kunsthalle Basel, Berlin’s Nationalgalerie – Hamburger Bahnhof and La Biennale de Montréal are presenting three exhibitions with the work of Anne Imhof in 2016 that, like three acts, are linked to one another. A first act was presented by the artist in June 2016 at Kunsthalle Basel. Angst II in Berlin forms the climax and turning point of this work complex. Anne Imhof will conclude the series of works with a third part that she will develop for La Biennale de Montréal. At Hamburger Bahnhof, the artist will present a pictorial composition for a limited time for ten days, consisting of music, text, sculptural elements and actors, falcons, and controlled drones that will form an overall picture.
Angst II divides the historic hall of Hamburger Bahnhof with a tightrope and a dense fog makes the architecture blur. The music of the piece embraces the entire exhibition space and subjects the painting to its own rhythm. While in the act at Kunsthalle Basel songs appeared as arias in a rather temporal order and the march, waltz, and ballad took on a role, the musical composition at Hamburger Bahnhof is played over individual systems. These spatial sound elements evoke memories of the stage set up of a rock concert or the house PA system. The pieces of music in Angst II were written especially for this act and support the work sometimes in a violently surrealist, comical way, sometimes very quietly. The compositions are primarily written for chorus, yet they are not sung by voices. They are segmented in their single tracks, played using the mobile telephones of the dancers, their sound is amplified by microphones that the dancers wear, and combine through the movements of the actors to form an orchestral whole. A tightrope walker crosses the semi-dark space like a clock that ticks and provides the pulse of the piece.
A new interpretation of Wagner’s Parsifal
by LAWBF, Moritz von Oswald and Jan Engel
An Audi Zeitgeist Project
Nicholas Mockridge, from the artists collective known as “Like a Wild Beast’s Fur,” directed Black Mountain – a short, experimental film based on Parsifal – condensed onto ten minutes.
Said Mockbridge of the film and its “Techno” soundtrack: “Basically, he (Wagner) invented film music, in a way. These are really simple chord progressions that narrate the story, and we took these chord progressions together with Moritz von Oswald, who created a techno soundtrack with them,”
Discussing the short film its Kundry, Canadian electronic musician and performance artist, “Peaches” said:
“It’s just really difficult because of the whole opera style. So it’s more like a pastiche – or just like fragments of an opera – but I guess it relates to the future; how our attention span is quite short and our technology is quite vast.”
At dusk an old shabby woman scraps around a massive pile of junk, in which she has gathered all her possessions and memories. She lights a candle, is confused, and mumbles. She endlessly arranges and rearranges her rubbish. Gradually, from under all her junk a bed becomes visible. It is her deathbed upon which she lays down after some delay. Wearily moaning, groaning and faltering. She starts to sing. At first with some hesitation, but increasingly with more pathos and ardour she brings a glowing and moving farewell to life. Once her aria is completed, she blows out the candle and rises to heaven. From afar we continue to hear her sing softly.
In Uwe Leipe Mastdrammis there is no text, not in the sense of a coherent language. The woman has no command of the language (anymore). The language used is fictitious and merely focused on sound and expression, using the voice in every conceivable form. Uwe Leipe Mastdrammis presents a portrait of a soul in the transition from life to death.
The staging is by Jeroen De Man (De Warme Winkel) with whom NAP has collaborated before in Anais Nin from Louis Andriessen.
Composer: Rob Zuidam
Mezzo-soprano: Gerrie de Vries
Stage-director: Jeroen De Man
Set-design: Arjen de Leeuw
Introduction: Connie Palmen
Première: 19 mei 2016
The AquaSonic underwater concert by Between Music, takes the audience on a unique and fascinating voyage into uncharted territory. Equipped with custom-made underwater instruments four musicians and singers submerge themselves completely in water in each their man-sized water tank. From the watery depths they deliver visual performance, art installation and concert in one; from silent warm waves of euphony to ocean-like deep rumbling, and roaring soundscapes of another world.
The groundbreaking work of getting a four piece band to play and perform under water highlights the deeply passionate and slightly mad inventor mindset that drives Between Music. The creation of the work has required years of experimentation and countless test-runs in close collaboration with everything from dedicated deep-sea divers to imaginative instrument makers and brilliant scientists -people driven by the same urge to break new ground and challenge existing worldviews. This has led to the development of a number of highly peculiar underwater instruments such as hydraulophone, violin, electromagnetic harp, chimes and percussion, as well as a distinctive vocal technique for underwater singing. The result is a concert experience out of the ordinary; a deep dive into a compelling visual universe and a new world of sound. It is organic, raw, aesthetic – and deeply original. AquaSonic is brimming with curiosity and fascination with the unknown that permeates the water tanks and waves in over the audience.
composition & play: Laila Skovmand
performance: Robert Karlsson, Morten Poulsen, Dea Maria Kjeldsen, Nanna Bech
light design: Adalsteinn Stefansson
sound design: Anders Boll
production: Between Music, FuturePerfect Productions
May 27th-29th, 2016, Opera Days Rotterdam
Angel’s Bone is a new work of opera-theatre that follows the plight of two angels whose nostalgia for earthly delights has, mysteriously, brought them back to our world. They are found battered and bruised from their long journey by a man and his wife. Mr. and Mrs. X.E. set out to nurse the wounded angels back to health: they bathe them, wash the dirt from their nails…then lock them in a room and decide to exploit these magical beings for wealth and personal gains. Angel’s Bone melds chamber music, theatre, punk rock, opera, cabaret, and electronics, exploring the dark effects and motivations behind modern-day slavery and the trafficking industry.
Music by Du Yun
Libretto by Royce Vavrek
Music Direction by Julian Wachner
Directed by Michael McQuilken
Mrs. X.E. – Abigail Fischer
Mr. X.E. – Kyle Pfortmiller
Girl Angel – Jennifer Charles
Boy Angel – Kyle Bielfield
World Premiere January 6, 2016 @ 3LD Art & Technology Center, during the Prototype Festival 2016