Thursday, 29 July 2010

Rihm, Meese, Richter

Jonathan Meese:  „Als ich begann, wusste ich nicht mal, was ein Libretto ist!“
Daniel Richter:      „Du dachtest, es sei ’ne Torte?“
Jonathan Meese:  „Nein. Eher Freiheit oder so was.“

Wolfgang Rihms new opera Dionysos premieres at this years Salzburger Festspiele, with set designs by German artist Jonathan Meese.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010


Christoph Schlingensief, the Avant Garde Brecht 'Haudegen' of the German Kulturlandschaft currently features widely in German Media. His Opera Via Intolleranza II opened the Munich Opera Festival; he featured as part of the TV documentary 'Deutschland, Deine Künstler'; and then there is his 'Festspielhaus Africa', the African Opera Village, a post colonial Bayreuth for the indiginous peoples of Africa... It's not really possible to be a friend of Schlingensief's stagework. He is radical, a ruthless self promoter, a strategic self-inventor. The fact that Schlingensief is dying of cancer seems part of the whole plan. Schlingensief: a cancer opera. And thats why he will be remembered; because his work is ultimately great:

'... ich glaube schon latent, dass ich etwas zu sagen habe. ...ich bin  gerne bereit zu scheitern. Aber mann muss wenigstens etwas versucht haben. Ich muss irgendwas sagen, wenn ich sehe: Es läuft etwas falsch hier.' 
Christoph Schlingensief

Friday, 9 July 2010

Zusammen mit Gustav Mahler

I have spent the last two weeks in splendid isolation, with family, working primarely on Mahler and his songs.

I was introduced to Gustav Mahler early on, learning the part of Mahler's 8th Symphony together with the Toelzer Knabenchor having just turned eight. With nine years I performed the symphony in the Royal Albert Hall as part of the proms, and it felt like I was part of a gigantic musical universe that had come together to cry out to the heavens. Eversince I felt uneasy about this man, who's music felt so riven.

This week, Mahler would have celebrated his 150th birthday. And I feel, to listen to his music now, is to understand so much about our age, whos innovation and progress came at so much cost. Percy Adlon has made a wonderful film about Mahler's final year, when he had reached universal acclaim, but was never fully understood, and lost the love of his life in the wake of the dawn of a new century. Without doubt, much of Mahler's Music was influenced heavily by Alma. The adagietto of his 5th Symphony is dedicated to her.

I believe Mahler was one of a handful of people who knew that their time was that of a crossroad to a new age, and who went first, and on their own, to mark their future. Sitting midst our beautiful rose garden, I study Mahler's music in peace and quiet, and sometimes it is as if he is sitting next to me.