Six encounters with the unclassified “project files“ of Jani Christou by Beat Furrer, Barblina Meierhans, Olga Neuwirth, Younghi Pagh-Paan, Samir Odeh-Tamimi and Christian Wolff.
A woman in black, a sound continuum interrupted by an explosion, crowds storming the stage, traffic lights, the deafening singing of the cicadas on Chios in the midday heat, performing in an ensemble as a cipher of social constellations, invoking the metaphysical other, composing as an attempt to break with the musical syntax, or even as a “slight pressure against the limit of meaning”: The cosmos of the Greek composer Jani Christou is labyrinthine branches in the richness of his suggestive images and designs. He transgresses the purely musical to the integration of scene, text, and image, and at the same time departs from the realms of art, and he sees political and social elements as compositional material, he creates a performance in tangible landscapes and cultural spaces. And ultimately it remains a prophetic design, … once to be realised:
In the last years of his life Christou created nearly 130 sketches for compositions to be realized later on. He was only able to work out a few of them before his untimely death in a car accident in 1970 on his 44th birthday. Most of these visionary drafts were never realized in the just under 50 years following his death, and only now will become the foundation of a new music theater work: Together with the renowned Greek director Michail Marmarinos, six composers, who are among the most distinguished creators of contemporary music theater, will tackle Christou’s designs. They encounter them with their own musical language, explore them, let themselves be inspired, and work their way through them, in order to use their own means and their own ideas to continue and write on into the future. The result is a music theater that is as much an archaic drama as a social sculpture that conjures up mythical powers in order to jump from practicing music into, in Christou’s terms, a “metapraxis,” into creating a metaphysical “other”—and it’s an “outburst from the syntax,” an attack on the logic in the relationship of the performer to his own special means of expression.
Worldpremiere on 23 January 2022, Deutsche Oper Berlin
Language: German, english, old greek
Duration: about 2 hours, one intermission.
Composition commissioned by the City of Munich for the Munich Biennale
A coproduction of the Munich Biennale with Deutsche Oper Berlin and Onassis Cultural Center
Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation
Composition comissions to Olga Neuwirth, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Younghi Pagh-Paan and Christian Wolff Funded by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung
Funded by Pro Helvetia, Swiss Arts Council