Last Chance for Kagel’s Himmelsmechanik

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Tonight and tomorrow are the two last performances of Mauricio Kagel’s interactive opera installation Himmelsmechanik (Celestial Mechanics), which Dietmar Schwarz has programmed to open the 2012-13 season of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. Unfortunately, we have not been able to attend (for purely practical reasons). But don’t let that stop you. We will, however, report on the upcoming new production of Nabucco in two weeks.

See below for more information of Kagel: 

A two-season collaboration with phase7 performing.arts, a Berlin-based network, has led to a number of projects in which the public plays an active role in proceedings. ‘Audiences’ move around outside the traditional auditorium, interacting with an operatic installation. The partnership is breaking new ground in both the music presented and the technology employed: the Deutsche Oper Berlin and phase7 performing.arts are creating a new interface between classical musical theatre, transmedial productions and scientific research. 

Taking Mauricio Kagel’s scenic composition CELESTIAL MECHANICS as a point of departure, the project explores the use of spatial audio playback techniques. Kagel’s 1965 work entitled CELESTIAL MECHANICS enacts the collision of uncontrollable weather phenomena in the form of a quasi-surreal score. Distorted rainbows, half moons struck by lightning and upwardly shooting stars allude to the defective statics of a wildly careening universe.

The production starts off by assembling the spectators in the lower gallery foyer of the Deutsche Oper Berlin. This 3-dimensional space is the setting for a staging of Kagel’s scenic visions. The spectators are surrounded by musicians rattling sheets of metal to produce thunder, operating wind machines and using other traditional devices for simulating meteorological phenomena.

The second part of the performance takes place in the stalls foyer. The shift in location parallels a leap forward to the theatrical opportunities afforded by the digital age. With the help of today’s multimedia, Kagel’s vision finds more sophisticated manifestation within an architecture consisting of 75 loudspeakers. The public can move audio sources around within the installation space and add or subtract features. In this way the notion of a decaying system of celestial mechanics is transmuted into the digital present. The noise of an approaching storm can pass over the heads of the audience, the patter of raindrops can be placed directly over someone’s head, and some groups of instruments appear disembodied from their sounds and seem to move through the hall.

Sven Sören Beyer is Artistic Director of phase7 performing.arts. He trained at the famous “Ernst Busch” Academy of Dramatic Art and the Paluccaschule in Dresden. In 1999, following a number of talked-about works produced on stages across Germany, he set up his own company, phase7, and quickly established himself as one of the most sought-after German shooting stars of the international media art community. Beyer’s transmediale aesthetic and his fascination for technical innovation are fundamental to phase7’s productions.

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