Janáček in the church

Janáček in the church

An opera with a length of only three-quarters of an hour must have a libretto that skilfully summarises a plot that extends over a period of several weeks. However, Leoš Janáček’s text for his opera ‘Katja Kabanova’ bumps along a little. This may be due to the fact that he himself cut the text down to a condensate based on a drama by the Russian Alexander Nikolayevich Ostrowski (1823 – 1886), which does not really explain the character of many of the figures in it. Ostrowski published his drama under the title “Thunderstorm” in 1859, which is remarkable in that the writer made the hypocrisy of society with regard to adultery and sexual desire, as well as subjugation in a family system, the main themes of his play. Little known to us, he is one of the greats of Russian literature and exerted a strong influence on Leo Tolstoy.

A scope for interpretation or confusion?

The work had its premiere at the Graz Opera on 18.3.2023, for which the team around director Anika Rutkofsky further complicated the already somewhat lurching plot with some directorial ideas, so that in the end the question arises: How much room for interpretation, how many mythological references, how many plot reinterpretations can a play tolerate in order to remain comprehensible? As it turns out, great efforts sometimes do not always lead to the goal.

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Leoš Janáček’s “Katja Kabanova” at Graz Opera ( Photo: © Werner Kmetitsch)

Which brings the criticism to its core. The director places the action in an ecclesiastical setting, more precisely in the interior of an Orthodox village church. Dikoj, (Wilfried Zelinka), who in Ostrowski and Janáček was still identified as a merchant, becomes the priest of the parish, his nephew Boris, entrusted to his care, his novice. (Arnold Rutkofski) The idea of placing the story in an Orthodox religious context pushes the actual message that every society is hypocritical and seeks scapegoats far away from the Graz audience. Rather, from the red plush chair of the opera, this constellation tempts one to point the finger at a system that “doesn’t happen that way in our country”.

In the very first minutes after the curtain rises, one witnesses a man on a ladder wiping the communist crescent symbol off a church window, which will later be replaced by an image of the Virgin Mary. This clarifies the time horizon in which the drama takes place. We are apparently shortly after the collapse of the USSR. In front of the interior of the church is a blue-tiled wall with an entrance familiar from swimming pools. In the second act, this swimming pool will be extended by a small room that will serve as a lovers’ ladder. The programme booklet explains: “Eleni Konstantatou’s stage space – a swimming pool church – makes the change of system architecturally visible: the St. Peter’s Church of a Protestant parish near Nevsky Prospekt, which was converted into a swimming pool under communism, is the inspiration for this. Today, mass is celebrated again on the covered pool, with the altar stone still reminiscent of the diving board.”

The reduction of the play’s message through the orthodox religious framework

The mendacity of society that Ostrowski exposed in his drama is downgraded in the Graz opera version to a bigotry in which there is no room for deep religious enlightenment or public confession of one’s fallibility.

Katja Kabanova (Marjukka Tepponen), the young wife of Tikhon (Matthias Koziorowski) is entirely under the curatorship of her despotic mother-in-law, who will not let her son off his motherly leash. When he has to leave the village for a fortnight, his wife suspects disaster. She senses that her hitherto unfulfilled sexuality will be the occasion for a marriage betrayal. And indeed, it only takes a few hours before she gives herself to Boris, Dikoj’s nephew, who until then could only adore her from afar.

In the scene in which the two young people find their way to each other, the stage is filled with all kinds of parallel mating variations. Later, the costumes will show that members of the religious community, who constantly cross themselves in church, obviously only know morality from hearsay.

Janáček’s outstanding music as a lifeline

As convoluted as the libretto and the staging themselves may appear, they are soothingly contrasted by the music of Leoš Janáček with the conducting of Roland Kluttig. Next to fiery sounds with hard and deep winds that announce disaster, there are highly lyrical passages that allow us to dive deep into various states of mind. Katja Kabanova herself is endowed with several wonderful arias, which Tepponen interprets with increasing brilliance as the performance progresses. Her acting portrayal of this young woman should also be highlighted. Every emotion, every event she reports comes across authentically to the audience. The folk song motifs that the composer has assigned to the character of Kudryash (Mario Lerchenberger) are also wonderful to listen to. The womaniser role he embodies in Graz pushes these heartfelt melodies into the drawer of a cold-blooded, savvy seducer, which means they can only be perceived as sweet at first.

In Janáček’s compositional technique, one can often easily understand the sound of individual words performed and entire movements. For example, the role of Katja’s mother-in-law (Iris Vermillion) has some hard and edgy interjections, in which the sentence “Mankind wants to be deceived” is also uttered. On the other hand, small cascades of melody that sway up and down make those birds audible that Katja sings about when she thinks about how much she would like to be free. However, they appear once more – shortly before the young woman, outcast from society, chooses suicide. The fact that Katja’s husband Tichon also falls victim to social lynch law in the end, because he comes out as homosexual in the Graz version, is also a directorial idea by Anika Rutkofsky.

Marie Sturminger’s costume potpourri reveals a rural society that has none of the chic of Moscow’s upper crust. Only the pompous habit of the Popen and the dazzling white Sunday staffage of Kabanicha, the wicked mother-in-law, convey glamour and thus at the same time her claim to authority.

An excellent ensemble makes for a successful evening

Musically, the ensemble performs extremely uniformly at a high level. There are no outliers downwards, which is very good for the performance. In addition to those already mentioned, Mareike Jankowski as the sister-in-law and Martin Fournier in the role of Kuligin should be singled out here. It is the performance of the singers and also the orchestra that make the evening in the Graz Opera an experience. Even if the staging itself can be hotly debated.

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Evolution and its physical legacy

Evolution and its physical legacy

“Bones and stones” are two nouns that radiate anything but warmth and security and that one does not necessarily immediately associate with each other. And yet, as Claudia Bosse points out in her latest work, they are inextricably linked. “Bones and Stones” had its world premiere in Hall G of the MuseumsQuartier and – according to the theatre-maker – is soon to move to the great outdoors. This makes sense, because the theme of the performance is the relationship of man to his bony inner life, but also to nature with its stony formations and evolution from the formation of the earth to the present day.

Bosse works with six women ranging in age from 24 to 75, most of whom move naked among the audience during the two-and-a-half-hour performance. You are allowed to wander along with the ensemble or move further away from it. Which position you take is up to you, also how and when you want to change it. In fact, however, most people follow the direction, which makes full use of the space and constantly shifts the focus of the actions. The darkness of the hall and the partial lighting on small “volcanoes” marked with bricks, as well as the first appearance of the women, transports one to a time long before man as a species himself ruled the earth. Equipped with small bones, extensions of toes and fingers, the women act as beings who still have much animalism about and within them. They will remain mute – with exceptions – until the end, but their habitus will change permanently.

After the little ankles have been recognised and shaken off like annoying appendages, one embarks together with the performers on the retelling of human development, starting from prehistory up to the present. It is a narrative without words, with many stops. Those that are easy to grasp and others that leave more room for interpretation.

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“Bones & Stones” – Claudia Bosse – Tanzqaurtier (Photo: Markus Gradwohl)

There masses of bodies are presented as a sculpture placed on the floor, in which life gradually begins to stir. Memories of the artist couple Prince Gholam were evoked as well as works by Mette Ingvartsen. Dancing and aesthetics from the visual arts are skilfully balanced here. Shortly after the women have separated from each other and are now acting as individuals, dressed in long plastic aprons, their smiling faces change. The strongly tightened expulsion from paradise, which the humane beings were still allowed to experience unreflectively, with a smile on their lips, is followed by an action with veritable contempt for humanity. Those who collapse on the ground are roughly dragged away from the surrounding crowd by their arms or legs. With kicks, the extremities of the lifeless bodies are brought into position so that they can be dragged behind them without obstacles. A text accompanies the brutal act by pointing out that it is the bones of the bodies that leave traces on the ground. This draws attention to the physicality of women. But not to those stereotypes that are usually paid attention to in women – their faces, their breasts, their hips. Rather, it is now the skeleton that suddenly acquires a strong moment of attraction. This is reinforced by a scene in which most of the audience looks at the sitting and standing women from behind. Slow movements with stretches to the left and right from their centre illustrate the flexibility of their spine and also skilfully bring into focus the shaping of their shoulder blades.

Again and again, questions about one’s own physical constitution arise as one follows the performance. Where do we come from, what do we carry within us that was already there thousands and millions of years ago? How does this special way of seeing change the way we look at ourselves, but also the way we look at others? What role do we play as part of nature on this earth?

Dionysian moments with live sung and spoken fragments of sound and language push the imagined wheel of time forward by millennia shortly afterwards, leaving it somewhere between industrialisation and Wagner’s Grail myth. The sound of sweaty hammering on large chunks of stone merges with a powerful female voice repeating the sentence “reality exists of processes rather than material object” several times. The sound layer – ingeniously produced in many facets by Günther Auer from the beginning – becomes denser and reaches ecstatic proportions, also through the vocal accompaniment.

In the silence that follows, the oldest performer, equipped with two shopping bags, crosses the room and finally pours the contents – brightly polished pig bones – onto the floor. One by one, the women pick some out of the small pile and carry them to other places in the room to rearrange them. In time, the archaeological gaze with which the bones are put together to form new shapes spills over to the audience. The reference to the danger and fragility of nature is not omitted. Cylindrical glass containers containing small biospheres convey the impression of preserved nature in a dystopian future. They symbolise a remnant of what the earth was once made of.

It would not be a work by Claudia Bosse if she did not explicitly deal with the medium of theatre in it. And she does so with a grand finale. In it, she evokes an image of a sleeping woman in a place created like a circus, which places everything that could be seen before in the realm of dreams.

With Anna Biczók, Myrthe Bokelmann, Anita Kaya, Carla Rihl, Marcela San Pedro and Christa Zuna-Kratky, the ensemble was homogeneous but also diverse. The clever, all-female cast made it possible to avoid raising questions about male and female identity, rivalry, attraction and repulsion, which meant concentrating on the human in itself. One can look forward to the continuation in the outdoor space.

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Frankenstein’s creature at the foot of the Salzburg Fortress

Frankenstein’s creature at the foot of the Salzburg Fortress

The Schauspielhaus, which overlooks the back of the Feste Salzburg, can almost be described as an insider tip. Although it is the largest independent theatre with a fixed ensemble, it surprisingly does not really get much attention beyond the region. Wrongly so. Because it offers a great variety of productions with currently 10 premieres per season. The second production this season, “Frankenstein”, is the responsibility of Jérôme Junod, the current theatre director and head dramaturge. He made his debut at the theatre last year with “King Arthur”, his own new version of the historical material. Due to a lockdown, this remarkable production was unfortunately only performed a few times. Now he has written his own stage version of Mary Shelley’s play, which was written in 1816, and given it a very special, novel drive.

The story can be imagined metaphorically like a Russian matryoshka doll – as a play, in a play, in a play. One after the other, different narrative strands develop, starting and ending with Roberta Walton. This one – richly endowed with male dominance – is an adventurer of the purest water who wants to reach the North Pole with a small crew on her own ship. Petra Staduan embodies not only this female free spirit, but just as magnificently the condemned Justine in the penitential lift, as well as the rebellious Agatha, who denounces the inequality between rich and poor. As Walton, she is almost constantly present on stage and listens to the stories of the young Victor Frankenstein.

The latter, rescued by her from the Nordic ice hell, tells her about his youth and study years at the university in Ingolstadt under the dominance of two cranky professors. These supported him to the point of absolute self-sacrifice in his endeavour to turn dead matter into living matter and create an artificial human being. Antony Connor and Olaf Salzer have the laughs on their side in these delightfully created roles. They also prove their comedic talent as sailors and switch just as skilfully to the serious characters of Frankenstein’s father and a blind revolutionary.

Wolfgang Kandler embodies the inquisitive young scientist who soon has to realise what misfortune he has brought upon his and his family’s lives with the creation of his “creature”. Magdalena Oettl in the role of Elisabeth, his fiancée, also frames the narrative as a new character introduced by Junod, Margaret Saville, a society columnist who is allowed to experience an amazing character development. Paul Andre Worms’s main character, Henry, childhood friend of Victor Frankenstein, is his complete opposite not only in terms of character structure but also visually. Cheerful and fun-loving, helpful and open, he is nevertheless murdered by Frankenstein’s monster out of a thirst for revenge.

Except for the very last scene, the latter appears in black, tight-fitting trousers with a large, black hooded jumper in such a way that one can hardly make out his face. (Costumes Antoaneta Stereva) Hussan Nimr, as Frankenstein’s creature, is permanently in motion, with a dark, threatening voice, and makes his unnatural origins clear through his animal-like movements. He makes off on all fours, he climbs nimbly onto scaffolding and usually stands with his head bowed while he tries to tell his story. It is the ambivalence of this character and, above all, the recognition of why he himself has become a monster, which is very touching and gives the story in the Schauspielhaus in Salzburg its very own colouring. Bernhard Eder provides live musical accompaniment to the action, both vocally and on electric guitar and electronics, thus lending it additional emotional moments.

Junod’s interpretation of “Frankenstein” does not rely on horror effects and the generation of goose bumps in the first place. Instead, it impresses with a finely crafted psychogram of an outsider whose greatest shortcoming is his loneliness, which he tries to sublimate through feelings of revenge and thus becomes a mass murderer. A successful evening of theatre in an autumn in which world history is unfortunately teeming with monsters.

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Why is this Shakespeare so unknown?

Why is this Shakespeare so unknown?

When the name Shakespeare comes to mind, most of us probably think of the royal dramas such as Lear, Macbeth or Hamlet. But to find someone who has seen Coriolanus, you have to search a long time. The theatre company “wortwiege” has just remedied this with its festival “Europa in Szene”. The theatre maker and professor of directing at the Max Reinhardt Seminar, Anna Maria Krassnigg, invited two former students of her directing class to the current festival edition to show their final projects. Azelia Opak dug deep into her research and, with an ensemble of young but already established actors and two members of the “wortwiege”, presents the rise and fall of the Roman patrician Coriolanus. It is the last Shakespeare work and is generally considered mature. Its varying interpretive authority may perhaps be to blame for the fact that it is not often performed.

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Coriolanus (Photo: Julia Kampichler)

Coriolanus, drilled for battle from childhood, applies for the office of Roman consul, pushed by his mother. He has sufficiently earned the merits for it; he could show more than 20 scars to the people, as was customary before taking office, in order to prove himself loyal to Rome. He could – if it were not for his indomitable pride. It is this pride that finally brings him down. A few centuries after Shakespeare, there will be a second character called Michael Kohlhaas who will be just as unbending as Coriolanus, even if the motive is different.

But until that happens, Opak shows Shakespeare’s characters in all their psychological differentiation: Coriolanus (Lukas Haas), the indomitable one, who for once does not remain true to his principles, but otherwise can be considered a stubborn man par excellance. It’s great how Haas can talk himself into a fury that is almost frightening. His mother Volumnia (Judith Richter), who, like today’s sports mothers, demands everything from her son in order to be able to bask in his glory. Menenius Agrippa (Jens Ole Schmieder), a member of the elite caste, who supports Coriolanus with well-meaning advice so as not to endanger his own position. Tullus Aufidius (Philipp Dornauer), Coriolanus’ multiple loser in battle, is just waiting to take revenge at the right moment. Despite his youth, Dornauer mimes a hot-blooded fighter, but puts a large portion of thoughtfulness before each of his actions. Junius Brutus (Paul Hüttinger), one of the first tribunes of the people, quickly learned how political intrigues work. Although his external attributes, such as a thick silver chain around his neck, indicate his closeness to the people, Hüttinger nevertheless imbues his tribune with a great deal of deviousness and cunning. Finally, Sicinius Velutus (Uwe Reichwaldt), second tribune of the people, who, in Opak’s direction, muddles his way through all dangerous situations like an Austrian civil servant-Slavin and has the audience’s sympathy on his side.

An extremely clever stage design (Felix Huber) separates the long stage space. A round revolving door – the front in gleaming gold, the back painted pitch black – indicates whether the action is taking place in Rome or with Rome’s enemy, the Volsces. After the last battle won, Coriolanus smears blood with his own hands on the large mirror in the stage apse, making it clear that his battles have cost more than just one human life.

The idea of accompanying the production with live music is not only great, but also makes dramaturgical sense. Boglarka Bako and Marie Schmidt repeatedly intonate Beethoven’s Coriolanus motif with slight variations on their string instruments. This also underlines those moments in which the patrician sees himself completely in his element as a popular leader and aristocratic ruler who takes the right to make his decisions without the people, whom he actually considers annoying and dispensable. The two musicians sit left and right at the back of the stage in such a way that they can be seen but do not disturb the play on the limited stage.

The production not only lives from the fact that it shows different views of a successful state and their respective representatives. The production also lives from strong, emotional moments, such as the one in which Coriolan’s mother throws herself on her knees before him and begs him for mercy for Rome. The way she clings to him shortly afterwards clearly shows the fateful connection between her and her son. Judith Richter remains indelibly in memory with this scene. But Jens Ole Schmieder also succeeds in showing what high acting is in an almost wordless performance. The way he pushes the tribunes to the side of the stage with short, disparaging snaps and doesn’t let them take their seats in the middle gets under your skin and makes him deeply despicable at this moment.

Who is good here and who is evil here is ultimately not really discernible. As in real life, there is no real black and no real white in this play. What remains is the realisation that politics used to be made by people, just as it is today. By people who, on the one hand, are where they are by virtue of their own will and, on the other hand, have conquered a place for themselves thanks to family or political networks, for which they are prepared to make personal sacrifices, but also to go over dead bodies.

The fact that the play seems to be made for the casemates in Wiener Neustadt is another plus point of the production. The other performances are framed by salon talks, but also a new format. With “speeches”, speeches by famous people are reenacted, which one usually only knows from hearsay. Another great artistic idea that illuminates the large field of “power”, which is ultimately the subject of “Szene Europa” in the casemates of Wiener Neustadt, from a different angle.

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When the risotto starts to smell

When the risotto starts to smell

The ‘Musiktheatertage Wien’ programme by Thomas Cornelius Desi and Georg Steker offers the audience an almost breathtaking range of different performances. This is shown alone by the two thematically diametrically opposed productions “Chornobyldorf” and ‘European Kitchen Encounters: VR-Bania’.

This ‘virtual reality project with taste’, as the subtitle says, comes from Austrian director Carmen C. Kruse and Italian composer Manuel Zwerger. They travelled to the Italian town of Verbania on Lake Maggiore and interviewed different residents on the subject of food. The interviews were edited into small sequences that could be seen with the VR glasses just like the preparation of a risotto – to be precise, a “risotto giallo con salciccia”, cooked by the performer Anna Piroli. She was supported by Leo Morello with a fine soundscape in which one could hear the scraping of the knife on the wooden board just as alienated as the rhythmic trickling of the rice grains into the pot. Snarling, vibrating, tapping, he supported Piroli with all kinds of percussion instruments, just as silent film music was made in the old days. The only difference was that the auditory repertoire was much more contemporary.

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VR-Bania (Photo: Nick-Mangafas)

The audience was invited to follow the cooking procedure as well as the interviews with movements on the swivel chairs on which they had been placed. The highlight of the performance, however, was that while the videos were being played in the kitchenette of the WUK behind the audience, this dish was actually being prepared, and thus the olfactory events merged with the videographed ones to form a live experience.

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VR-Bania (Photo: Nick-Mangafas)

The subsequent dinner with the director and the composer provided an opportunity to talk not only about what had been seen, but also about what had gone before. This part in particular should be emphasised, because it is the experience of togetherness that one cannot feel while wearing the VR glasses that gave the performance its real spice. It is what audiences need now more than ever when they are exposed to theatre experiences. Videos, feature films or recorded plays can be watched post Corona in droves in front of the video screen at home. The conversation with people you don’t know, but who at least have a common denominator – the desire for theatre – this conversation and this exchange cannot be replaced, but should be intensified – as exemplified in this production.

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Chornobyldorf – a look back and one forward

Chornobyldorf – a look back and one forward

In the darkness of the hall, a man’s voice becomes audible. It tells of how what is being spoken is actually the end of a letter; a letter that was never sent, but will nevertheless be written one day. Shortly afterwards, his voice is visually accompanied by a woman whose portrait appears on a video. While the man speaks and recites a long poem in Ukrainian, she begins to express herself with onomatopoeic sounds in an unknown artificial language. Although – if you don’t speak Ukrainian – you can neither follow the content of the man’s voice nor know exactly what the woman wants to say, you get a feeling that what is being conveyed here results from experiences that are painful.

In fact, the title “Chornobyldorf. Archeological opera” is already a hint that one reference of this new opera is the tragedy of Chernobyl. The combination with the noun affix ‘dorf’ came about because the ensemble visited Zwentendorf and its surroundings at the beginning of the work. The nuclear power plant in Austria, which never went into operation, and the one in Ukraine, whose construction began in 1970, before the country’s independence, prompted the Ukrainian cultural creators to come up with the idea of a global view of the subject of nuclear power plants and their dystopian effects; regardless of where these reactors are located, they pose a cross-border threat to humanity.

The opera is set between the 23rd – 27th centuries, in a time when we have long been history and will be gone. It is based on the assumption of a world-spanning catastrophe in which the survivors must once again become aware of their identity. In a future in which new rituals are created and yet everything that happens interpersonally in societies consciously or unconsciously draws on historical models.

The seven chapters, which merge into one another without a break but still recognisably, bear the headings: Elektra, Dramma per musica, Rhea, The little Akkorden girl, Messe de Chornobyldorf, Orfeo ed Euridice and Saturnalia. In this way, the two composers Roman Grygoriv and Illia Razumeiko on the one hand take up great Greek myths, which became the primary breeding ground of European art production. On the other hand, they refer directly to Slavic musical traditions. This artistic interlocking, in which different musical stylistic means are used, makes one thing clear: the people who are on stage here and all those who worked on this opera see themselves as deeply belonging to Europe. The current discussion about admitting Ukraine to the EU is legitimised in a quasi cultural-historical way in the historical references that are made here. But what makes Europe, the individuality of the countries and their different ethnic groups, is also vehemently expressed. Again and again, historical musical quotations – transformed into modern sound images – are replaced by Bosnian-Herzegovinian and Ukrainian folk tunes. Lamentations as well as wedding songs are sung in their typical melodic line. Unison lines separate into a briefly audible microtonality that is centuries old and yet sounds new and fresh. Seconds detaching themselves from it, already almost purely felt, as well as subsequent seventh leaps intensify the emotionally painful expression. Mahlerian chord progressions, sung chorally, and a fugue by Bach that seems to go out of control, lay a music-historical trace in that core of Europe that literally set the tone from the Baroque to the last century.

All this is met by a wealth of new sound material: weird string sounds, the most diverse, sometimes strongly accentuated rhythms, played on a percussion construct assembled from various found objects (Evhen Bal), as well as electronic additions that make wind atmospheres or a threatening, indefinable drone audible.

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Chornobyl Village (Photo: Anastasiia Yakovenko eSel)

A rapid succession of images, supported by video inserts showing fragile human figures in Ukrainian landscapes, frequent changes of persons and costumes as well as the creation of emotional alternating baths, create an abundance of theatrical events that wash over you like a tsunami. At the same time, one is drawn into the sometimes somnambulistic events in such a way that it is difficult to put one’s cognitive abilities above one’s own strong feelings.

The almost surreal, yet at the same time highly romantic “coronation” of a young accordionist, supported by a video feed that expands the space, is replaced by religious sounds and images. A fitting Agnus Dei, sung in a classical-harmonic structure, is interrupted by a similar, but explosively punk-like one. Shockingly, one finds oneself in the here and now, in a state in which romanticism no longer finds a place. Euridice’s entombment, the lament of her Orpheus, is realised in a visually powerful choreography in which the nakedness of the participants particularly emphasises their fragility and need for protection. The finale is a saturnal orgy around a cardboard portrait of Lenin turned upside down.  Everything that has previously accumulated in inexpressible feelings and suffering, everything that is difficult to talk about, dissolves in this wild, exuberant scene in which one would like to dance along oneself. The fact that the end with its wind noise is reminiscent of the beginning of the production may well symbolise an eternal cycle. A cycle in which the existentially human is ultimately lived over and over again, but is also reinvented, indeed must be reinvented. When nothing is the way it used to be, then one has to fall back on what lies dormant deep within the human being, but also what distinguishes him as a living being on earth. He is a being that is constantly reforming and adapting and yet still carries within him his supposedly cut roots.

None of the artists would have dreamed, when the opera was created, that so much of what is shown in it would be given a topical reference. The horrors of war and the suffering that is currently taking place in Ukraine resonate strongly in the reception at the moment. The threat to the earth posed by technological progress, hybrid forms of human beings practising artistic genres that can nevertheless never be animated by them, this too is contained in “Chornobyldorf”. It is to be hoped that the opera, after its premiere in Rotterdam and the second station in the WUK in Vienna, on the occasion of the ‘Musiktheatertage Wien’, may experience many more stations. And it is to be hoped that the ensemble will receive the message from the audience that a work like this, especially in difficult times, is one that is needed, and even more: that it also contributes to survival. In view of the brutality of the events, one singer said during the audience discussion that she was no longer convinced that theatre could achieve anything. The experience of violence, which suppresses everything, is too diametrically opposed to this idea.

May the statement “vita brevis, ars longa” give her and the ensemble a small shift. May it offer them a glimmer of hope that art outlasts life and thus also this, their production. It will be available to later generations one day – in whatever way – and offer a glimpse into that current present which is so hard to bear for the Ukrainian population, but also for all the other, suffering participants.

This article was automatically translated with deepl.com

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