The Stadttheater di Gießen presents “mit einem Namen aus einem alten Buch”, an anthology on form of „scenic concert” with texts and music by Heiner Goebbels
This is a special for Heiner Goebbels, who decided to focus exclusively on his artistic activity, leaving all official positions, including, after 20 years, his teaching activity at the Institute of Applied Theatrical Studies of the Justus Liebig University in Gießen. While the new large-scale work Everything that happened and would happen is announced in Manchester for October, the Stadttheater Gießen presents a small but precious anthology of more or less recent compositions of the composer Goebbels paginated with his traditional care by the director Goebbels. The title for this "scenic concert" (according to the definition of the composer himself) is mit einem Namen aus einem alten Buch (with a name from an old book) borrowing from one of the texts, Zement by Heiner Müller, which intersect or rather dialogue with pages of music in the show. As often in the creations of Goebbels, the texts belong to very distant cultural seasons and are generally characterized, in this case, by an extreme and meticulous descriptivism that, out of context, create an abstract landscape of sounds with an alienating effect. As always, an organic dramaturgy is very alien to Goebbels’s intention. If anything, words want to be mostly extensions or appendices of the musical discourse or maybe music itself, but inevitably solicit the intellect with abrupt changes of perspective and vertiginous temporal jumps.
The opening in proscenium is furious with the concert scene of Befreiung (Liberation) composed in 1989. Lisa Charlotte Friederich reads with a frantic rhythm reflected in the nervous musical line a futuristic sequence of proclamations from the drama Krieg (War) by Rainald Goetz. The orchestra sinks in the pit and the key changes completely for Die Wiederholung (The repetition) (1995), with its miniature of Scène from one of Alain Robbe-Grillet's Instantanés performed from behind by David Bennent between two books resting on a large desk framed between two red curtains at the bottom scene. In front, on the rotating stage two pianos emit shreds of scattered Chopinian and Schubertian sheets, while an enigmatic feminine figure of shoulders assists mute. Also the group of five brass and percussions engaged in the long Herakles 2 (1992) from the clear jazz inspiration revolve on the scene in a movement mirrored by the images projected on a transparent curtain that translate in images the hermetic wandering in the forest that Bennent tells through the Müller’s fragment of Zement. No less unresolved are the words taken from La jalousie of 1991, still by Robbe-Grillet, read by Bennent always accompanied by all instruments behind that curtain that the projections transform into a great shutter (the “jalousie” of the title). Surrogate Cities is one of the greatest hits of the composer Goebbels. From that composition comes the next tableau, Surrogate that speaks through the words of Hugo Hamilton: a running woman through the streets of a metropolis reproduced with a mixture of words, again told by Friedrich, and percussive, breathtaking, wheezing music. Another overwhelming jump follows to the composure of Nicolas Poussin’s pictorial classicism, whose Lettre et propos sur l'art sent to the Lord of Chambray on 1 March 1665 with his precepts on art and the beautiful sayings are read by Bennent while those words are projected into vertical passages on a flight of columns in “chiaroscuro”. The last piece is for the sole music of Songs of Wars I have seen (2007), in which the suspended arabesques of the solo trumpet – recalling the disquieting trumpet of Ives’s Unanswered question – are sweetened here by the sidereal sounds of the many standing bells played by all interpreters in a circle with an almost ritual character.
The concept and especially the scenic realization of Heiner Goebbels for this anthology, that has a strong “auteur” mark, express a deep wisdom and balance. Programmatically far from any homogenizing "Gesamkunstwerk" approach, the contrast of different theatrical moments prevails, but they are always resolved with great subtlety and subtle irony. More than the essential stage elements designed by the same Goebbels with the collaboration of Monika Gora, the lighting design by Goebbels with Jan Bregenzer and René Liebert’s videos do most of the job. Alongside the two talented actors, a fundamental role is played by the ductile instrumentalists of the Philharmonisches Orchester Gießen who are very open to stage play with no harm to the quality of the music performance.
Very numerous audience. Many applause to all the good performers.
Stefano Nardelli, 07.05.2018, Giornale della musica.it