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Kickstarter für Musiktheater - Deutsche Oper Berlin

Kickstarter for musical theatre

The NEW SCENES series has been bringing young teams to the Tischlerei for over ten years. Three creatives look back

Sara Gloinarić, composer “Schattenkreuze” is a song by GDR band Karussell, and it was the starting point for my composition of the piece KEIN MYTHOS, which librettist Dorian Brunz and I developed in 2021 for NEUE SZENEN. The song was released uncensored in the GDR. The lyrics aren’t very explicit, but it was clear that it was about the yearning for freedom. In our piece, we tell the story of two women, 16 and 19 years old, who fall in love in the final days of the GDR. Many years later, they meet again by happenstance at an airport. The entire story takes 30 seconds. “Schattenkreuze” starts to play and closes the piece, heavily electronically alienated. We also used vocal effects for the singers, in particular a Harmonizer and Vocoder. I had some experience with musical theatre at the time, including for the Oper Halle, the Music Biennale Zagreb and the Salzburger Taschenopernfestival. But I wasn’t sure whether I would continue in that direction. NEW SCENES came at a perfect time for me, because I was ready to try something new. I was given a platform to experiment. I got the impression that it wasn’t all about order, but about believing in your own abilities. So, I looked at NEW SCENES like a sort of laboratory, a musical theatre lab that also gives you a big stage (even if the stage in the Tischlerei is rather small). The fact that the Deutsche Oper Berlin is involved in NEW SCENES opens you up to all sorts of people, and helps productions that are in their infancy become more relevant and visible. You get to make new contacts and network with colleagues who have a similar artistic vision. In my eyes, that is key to creating honest musical theatre.

Michael Höppner, director I was involved in the first NEW SCENES in 2013. The main theme was “Anna Politkovskaya”, the murdered Russian journalist who was critical of the regime. Together with American composer Leah Muir, I developed the piece WIE MAN FINDET, WAS MAN NICHT SUCHT. The text was by Harry Lehmann, and essentially it was being narrated by someone reflecting on their visit to Russia. It was my first time working with a contemporary composer, and my first musical theatre debut that I put on myself. The experience paved the way for my future career. I also learned how to creatively bring various approaches together to make one project.

That year’s NEW SCENES gave rise to the musical theatre ensemble “Opera Lab Berlin”, which I co-founded with Evan Gardner, who also participated. We want to make new musical theatre, make it popular and accessible and understand it as entertainment, not as some niche event for experts. In the field of New Music in particular, innovation is often used as the seal of quality even though essentially it always boils down to reinventing the wheel. The NEW SCENES are far less ideological. Here, the “new” simply means that works, materials and configurations are created that never existed before, and unique performance experiences are created that could scarcely be reproduced. Now, I’m a leading musical theatre dramaturg, director and assistant opera director at the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar. We also have a festival for contemporary musical theatre, work with universities and follow the same collaborative mindset that defines the NEW SCENES. This is how you create working relationships that bear fruit for years, if not decades.

Fanny Sorgo, librettist I participated in NEW SCENES twice, in the third and fourth years. The first time went so well that I thought, let’s do this again – but with another composer and director. I studied stage writing at the UdK in Berlin and had no experience with musical theatre, and I couldn’t even read music. Still, I was curious. The result was two different working experiences, each of them comfortable, clear and built on respect. I worked with composer Malte Giesen to create the piece TAKO TSUBO. I gave all my text to him, which worked for him without me having to add any rhyme or reason to it. He had something torrential in mind for the composition, and the word melody didn’t play a big role.

It was different with composer Sven Daigger, but it went just as well. He was very focused on the rhythm for our piece AM GRUND GIBT’S KEINEN GRUND MEHR NACH DEM GRUND ZU FRAGEN, and he gave me dramaturgical suggestions that I could take as inspiration to figure out if I could find a word for more or fewer syllables in this spot or that spot to create a rhyme. In both instances, we each had our own room: I as the author, the composers with their music. And we always trusted each other. I never went to any rehearsals after the projects were done, and let myself be surprised when I went to the premiere. I have since started making my own music (in addition to writing and filmmaking). My first singles were released this past year. They aren’t artistic compositions, but rather chansons. My experiences with NEW SCENES got me to experiment more with how sounds, music and text can be woven together.


Transcripts: Patrick Wildermann

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