Grafeneck, for many years the hunting lodge and pleasure palace of Duke Carl-Eugen of Württemberg, was a place of culture in the 18th century where music, opera and ballet were cultivated. In 1928, the Samaritan Foundation took over the palace as a place for disabled people. In 1939, it was confiscated by the National Socialist state for "purposes of the Reich". From January 1940 until December of the same year, 10654 disabled and mentally ill people were murdered there and their bodies burned.
In the attempt to make the unimaginable number of victims comprehensible, it became clear that it should never just be about numbers, but that it is important to give the individual victims a face again. Under the hands of Jochen Meyder, 10654 terracotta figures were created over the years, individually modelled, with individual faces. Once all the figures, all the victims, have been sculpted and laid out, visitors to the memorial are invited to take a figure home. In this way, they can take on a post hume sponsorship, and give a person a place of remembrance again.
The programme begins with a Renaissance introduction, an "Allemanda con Tripla" by Thomas Fortmann. This is followed by a composition by both authors on themes from the "Württemberg Sonatas by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach", which were dedicated to Duke Carl Eugen. Helmut Lipsky's piece "Überm Sternenzelt sicher wohnen" ("Dwelling Safely in a Starry Sky") deals with Schiller's Ode to Joy, and Thomas Fortmann's composition Grafeneck 1940, which deals with the incomprehensible events in Grafeneck, concludes the programme. All four pieces were written especially for this commemoration and require an unusual instrumentation: violin (plus electric Vl), piano and percussion.
Jochen Meyder studied sculpture in Stuttgart and Nuremberg, art history and philosophy in Tübingen. His works are committed to the figure, but are often contrasted in a collage-like manner by found objects, thus obtaining a new statement. The figures of the murders in Grafeneck comprises a separate group of works.
Helmut Lipsky studied violin and was a student of Ithzak Perlman in New York for a time. He is a professor at the Montréal Conservatory and plays as a soloist with leading orchestras and in various chamber music ensembles. He writes music for theatre and film, also using unusual instrumentation.
Philippe Talec (violin) Matthias Schranz (violoncello)
Ivan Nestic (double bass) Daniel Brylewski (piano)
Christoph Vogt (percussion)
One evening on his way home, Prolitheus Pfenninger finds a book on the seat in the train. It is the worst book he has ever come across. While still on the train, he begins to improve it with a felt-tip pen and Tippex: he crosses out entire blocks of text and leaves only individual words or parts of sentences. Over the next 20 months, he refines his décollage technique. Instead of disgust, he uses poetry as a mental overstructure. Each page individually becomes an object of study in its own right. The original text offers various, yet limited possibilities due to the given choice of words. So he works on a page sometimes for days until it has a completely new face. In the end, the originally told story is stripped away and the pages he treats look like bastards between constructive painting and total arbitrariness. That's how I first saw the book.
The libretto is a collage which I put together from the verbal leftovers that Prolitheus left on the pages of the book. I collected this leftover material in 10 thematic folders and then reassembled everything. The libretto is therefore a collage of a décollage. I limited my own additions to the lyrics. That's how the plot came about, that's how the text was composed.
My musical concept for the piece could be described as "unity in diversity".
In fact, very different currents of contemporary musical styles come together. By trying to give the individual titles the form and style appropriate to their content, I rely on my own and free compositional decision. So the music lies between all the fronts, or rather plays and flirts with them, by mixing compositional techniques of the newer serious music with the rhythmic feeling of jazz and the attitude to life of the rock age. The result is by no means a kind of crossover, but always an original expression of contemporary musical consciousness: a "Sturm und Drang" piece, with the corresponding intention of transcending an enlightened period of musical creation.
As a preliminary study, I wrote a 6-movement suite for piano trio „Prolitheus Suite“ which was premiered at the University of Texas, with repeat performances at Moores Opera, Houston, as well as at two Italian festivals and Carnegie Hall in New York.
Furthermore: despite my tendency towards "twelve-tone", and although my musical expression is different nowadays, I feel connected to the specifically German music theatre, which, through Eisler and Weill, among others, has understood that art and „Gassenhauer“ need not be mutually exclusive. And so I would like to see my Vaudeville for Leontine as a modern continuation of this tradition.
Götterspiele deals with today's topical questions of what truth and reality are in their basic features, what part we take in these constructs, and how they can be manipulated. People trust appearances, but appearances are pretended and can be changed, and this principle is used in the play to gradually drive the victim to despair.
Dramaturgically, two motifs are linked, the Job motif of the wager with that of the deception of Amphytrion: the two gods transform themselves into figures that the girl believes to be her parents, her friend, her acquaintances. In these roles they try to destroy the life of the girl through suffering. It is the gods who, by means of the amphytrion effect, erect a reality of which the girl becomes the victim," I noted at the beginning of the transcript. (Christian Haller)
(The premiere took place in 1986. The play has been translated into Romanian and Russian and was performed again in 2003 at the State Theatre in Minsk.)
Two forgotten, ragged gods decide to turn to the world and see if humans still have destiny, even though they no longer believe in the gods.
Lee and Loh choose a young woman for their experiment, transforming themselves into characters from the woman's circle of life. Above all, it is Benni, her missing boyfriend, in whose character one of the gods returns to tell tales of adventure. How he was deported, escaped, and sailed in black to the equator on a ship: sea stories referring to Joseph Conrad's tales.
She becomes entangled in a web of lies that are constantly being reinterpreted in new and more dangerous ways. If at first they were adventures, later they turn out to be crimes in which the woman is dragged and finally driven into a delirium reciting Benni's stories to herself as a mantra of her own experience.
"In the musical language, I pursue an aesthetic in which a variety of stylistic means should merge into a unity. My formerly experience in rock music and today in contemporary-classical music, as well as my personal style of composition, in which opposites can also be combined, makes this projects interesting for me.
The instrumentation, which ranges from bassoon to electric guitar and from violin to synthesiser, already points to an aesthetic of stylistic diversity that is quite unique to the piece. However, the result is by no means a crossover or world music, but an original expression of today's musical creation." (Thomas Fortmann)
The text and music are accompanied by circus element acrobatics, aerial artistry, juggling and mime which are not meant to illustrate the plot, but to create an additional visual element to touch the audience on another level.
to be determined (tenor): LOH, BENNIE
Wolf Latzel (Baritone): LEE, FATHER
Marylaure Pugin (vocals/ acrobatics, accordion): YOUNG WOMAN
First performance 1 March 2024 Theater Alte Reithalle Aarau
in collaboration with Ensemble tacchi alti and Ensemble Kunos Circus Theater in honour of Christian Haller's 80th birthday.
Opera popolare o quasi
Pia de' Tolomei
The popular legends transmitted by Sestini and Moroni in "Ottava Rima", Donizetti's opera and the cinematography of the mid-twentieth century tell us a melodramatic story anchored in a nineteenth century vision.
In dealing with this subject we have adhered to an interpretation faithful to the original, closely linked to the few verses of the divine comedy and based on rigorous and modern historical research, which also reveals a much more dramatic drama than the traditional legends.
video TRAILER, 7 min.
music TRAILER, 18 min.
libretto various artists
drama Bruno Gaudieri
director Francesco Tarsi, Caterina Genta
scenery Francesca Bizzarri & Jochen Meyder
Federica Raja (Pia de’ Tolomei)
Simona Bertini(Margherita Aldobrandeschi)
Daniele De Prosperi (Nello Pannocchieschi)
Andrea Rola (Tollo degli Alberti di Prata / Ghino)