Music by David Sylvian / J.S. Bach
Concept: Martin Haselböck, Frank Hoffmann, Virgil Widrich
„Take ingredients like the base substance of Edgar Allen Poe's Short Story "The Black Cat", a proper dash of dance and David Sylvian's music, as well as - the most prominent of all – excerpts of Bachs Cantatas and video projections as the coloring agent and you receive a highly explosive mixture." - Luxemburger Wort
In Edgar Allan Poe's story a nameless person proclaims his sanity, despite the wild narrative he is about to convey. No rationality can explain the phantasms he finds himself haunted by over the course of many months, involving arson, a black cat, and the death of his wife.
This multi-media story production is told through a musical mashup of English songwriter David Sylvian's songs and arias from J.S. Bach's cantatas — a collaboration with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra and conductor Martin Haselboeck.
Director Frank Hoffmann says: "The stage design is foremost a film – moving images, scenes and stories. In the third dimension, the singer, the dancers, and the musicians merge with the virtual space ... to become one total spatial experience."
This production integrates music, drama, dance and multimedia stage design, breaking the boundaries between performing arts and visual arts. Two dancers along with a singer and a baroque ensemble perform a work of contrasts and extremes, from baroque ensemble to visual multi-media, from Bach to Rock.
"The music of the narrator-protagonist was penned by J.S. Bach. Seven of the most beautiful tenor arias, accompanied by baroque ensemble, enable the sentenced murderer in his cell to react on the monstrous events that led to the dreadful deed. The music of the descriptive flashbacks is by David Sylvian, one of the most unique, unconventional, and uncompromising songwriters of our time. Together with virtuoso instrumental works of Bach, the work features four big dance scenes. Dramatic highlights of the narration are emphasized by the overlaying of additional sound treatments. This remix was developed by me, incorporating some additional music and sonic elements by Ernst Krenek, myself und Ülo Krigul." (Martin Haselboeck)
The Black Cat by Edgar Allan Poe
Poe's short story was first published in the August 19, 1843, edition of The Saturday Evening Post. It is a study of the psychology of guilt, often paired in analysis with Poe's "The Tell-Tale Heart". In both, a murderer carefully conceals his crime and believes himself unassailable, but eventually breaks down and reveals himself, impelled by a nagging reminder of his guilt.
One of Poe's darkest tales, "The Black Cat" includes his strongest denunciation of alcohol. The narrator's perverse actions are brought on by his alcoholism, a "disease" and "fiend" which also destroys his personality. The use of the black cat evokes various superstitions, including the idea voiced by the narrator's wife that they are all witches in disguise. Poe owned a black cat. In his "Instinct vs Reason -- A Black Cat" he stated: The writer of this article is the owner of one of the most remarkable black cats in the world - and this is saying much; for it will be remembered that black cats are all of them witches. In Scottish and Irish mythology, the Cat Sìth is described as being a black cat with a white spot on its chest, not unlike the cat the narrator finds in the tavern. The titular cat is named Pluto after the Roman god of the Underworld.
Although Pluto is a neutral character at the beginning of the story, he becomes antagonistic in the narrator's eyes once the narrator becomes an alcoholic. The alcohol pushes the narrator into fits of intemperance and violence, to the point at which everything angers him – Pluto in particular, who is always by his side, becomes the malevolent witch who haunts him even while avoiding his presence. When the narrator cuts Pluto's eye from its socket, this can be seen as symbolic of self-inflicted partial blindness to his own vision of moral goodness.
The fire that destroys the narrator's house symbolizes the narrator's "almost complete moral disintegration". The only remainder is the impression of Pluto upon the wall, which represents his unforgivable and incorrigible sin.
David Sylvian - Songwriter (*1958)
(born David Alan Batt, 23 February 1958) is an English singer-songwriter and musician who came to prominence in the late 1970s as the lead vocalist and main songwriter in the group Japan. His subsequent solo work is described by AllMusic critic Jason Ankeny as "a far-ranging and esoteric career that encompassed not only solo projects but also a series of fascinating collaborative efforts." Sylvian's solo work has been influenced by a variety of musical styles and genres, including jazz, avant-garde, ambient, electronic, and progressive rock.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Bach was a German composer and organist. The most important member of the Bach family, his genius combined outstanding performing musicianship with supreme creative powers in which forceful and original inventiveness, technical mastery and intellectual control are perfectly balanced. While it was in the former capacity, as a keyboard virtuoso, that in his lifetime he acquired an almost legendary fame, it is the latter virtues and accomplishments, as a composer, that by the end of the 18th century earned him a unique historical position. His musical language was distinctive and extraordinarily varied, drawing together and surmounting the techniques, the styles and the general achievements of his own and earlier generations and leading on to new perspectives which later ages have received and understood in a great variety of ways.
Upon entering the theatre lobby, guests will have a chance to take pictures in the CEG Interactive Photo Booth and share their photos with friends online!
A nameless person sits on death row, awaiting his execution. He has been convicted of murder. He has killed his own wife. But he does not understand: how did this happen? What possessed him to do this? He begins to tell his story. The story of the black cat.
He has sung at many of the world’s great concert halls and opera houses, including: Boston Symphony Hall, Carnegie Hall, the Royal Albert Hall, Berlin Philharmonie and the Salzburg Festival, Paris (Palais Garnier and Opéra Comique), Glyndebourne, Copenhagen’s Kongelige Teater, Opéra de Lille, the Sydney Opera House, and the Grand Capitole in Toulouse. Nicholas has particularly enjoyed prolonged collaborations with Sir John Eliot Gardiner and EBS, Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort, Lars-Ulrik Mortensen and Concerto Copenhagen, John Butt and the Dunedin Consort, Andrzej Kosendiak, Stephen Layton and Jordi Savall. He has also sung to critical acclaim with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, the St Paul Chamber Orchestra, the OAE, the Brussels, Copenhagen, BBC, Wroclaw and Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestras, Melbourne Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, and Britten Sinfonia. Recordings include a Gramophone Award-winning Messiah and Matthäus-Passion, María de Buenos Aires.
Luxembourg dancer and choreographer Sylvia Camarda studied at the London Contemporary Dance School, where she obtained a Bachelor of Arts in 2000. As a dancer, she has collaborated with Jan Fabre (BE) on multiple creations from 2005-2007. In 2005-2006, she joined Cirque du Soleil for their North American tour with the Delirium show. She danced in Sascha Ley’s play Mi Frida, inspired by the life and work of Frida Kahlo.As a choreographer, Camarada created Swan dies of an overdose, Warrior of Beauty, Deleschtendag, First of all Only the lonely, Crash, and Absolutely fabulous. She has also choreographed for Andy Bausch films.
Jean-Guillaume Weis is dancer-performer with a background in classical and contemporary dance, and has been a member of the following companies: Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch (DE), Mark Morris Dance Group (US), Tanztheater Basel Joachim Schlömer (DE) among others. In 2002, he created the Dance Theatre Luxembourg and in 2013, the Danzschoul. After Playtime (2014) and Flock (2015), Weis created Bucketful of dreams (2017). His plays have been presented in Belgium, Germany, France, Poland, Luxembourg and the United States. In June 2018, he presented his latest creation at the Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg: DRIVEN.
In 1996, Frank Hoffmann founded the Théâtre national du Luxembourg. Under Hoffman’s direction, it has become a renowned multilingual institution, doing plays by Luxembourg authors, alongside German, French and English plays. Since 1984 Frank Hoffmann has directed some 100 productions both nationally and internationally. After working with the Ruhrfestspiele in 2001, Frank Hoffmann was appointed director of the Ruhrfestspiele Recklinghausen from 2006-2018. Frank Hoffmann became known not only as a director but also as a playwright. Frank Hoffmann himself wrote and directed Trilogy der Wut in 1982 in Luxembourg and Heidelberg.
Music Director and Musical Concept
The Austrian conductor and organist is the Founder and Music Director of Orchester Wiener Akademie, Vienna, Music Director of Musica Angelica, Los Angeles, and Conductor in Residence of the Liszt Festival Raiding, Austria. He has received numerous honours and awards as conductor and organist, including the Deutscher Schallplattenpreis, the Diapason d’Or and the Hungarian Liszt Prize. Haselböck has conducts leading orchestras throughout the world. In North America his conducting credits include the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh, Washington, San Francisco, Detroit and Toronto Symphony Orchestras, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.
Stage, Visuals, and Film Projections
Born 1967 in Salzburg, he works on numerous exhibitions, multimedia-and film productions. His short film “Copy Shop” won 35 international awards and was nominated for the Oscar. “Fast Film” premiered in Cannes 2003 and won 36 awards. In 2009 he was the artistic director of the exhibition “Linz. City in Luck“ which was part of that city‘s year as European Capital of Culture, in 2010 he was responsible for the exhibition “90 Years of the Salzburg Festival.“ Virgil Widrich is co-founder and CEO of checkpointmedia AG in Vienna, which is one of the most successful companies of the “Vienna creative industry”.
He is also Professor for “Art & Science” at the University of Applied Arts Vienna. Virgil Widrich lives and works in Vienna.
This activity is supported in part by the California Arts Council, a state agency. Learn more at www.arts.ca.gov
Supported in part by a grant from the Arts Council for Long Beach and the City of Long Beach.
Long Beach Opera events are supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission