THE BRILLIANCE OF A 'BLUR PRODUCTION' OF
By D. Rane Danubian
artssf.com, the independent observer of San Francisco Bay Area music
Week of May 31-June 6, 2005
Vol. 7, No. 81
Opera can be a wild multimedia experience, in your face, hurled at you
in every medium, in a way you won't encounter at our grand-opera houses.
In a tiny Mission-District
loft, a small visiting German company presented the stunning creation
"Blinde Liebe" (Blind Love), a melange of dance, film, video, live
music, fantasy projections, speech, song, and, oh, yes, reality,
composed by Erling
actresses hitting on audience members, projectors "malfunctioning" in a
manner requiring ladders at center stage, directors arguing with
performers, all the lines are fascinatingly blurred---between audience
and performers, between reality and fantasy, between rehearsal and
show, between script and improv.
The fourth wall was simply
and decisively demolished.
The upshot was the most
engrossing contemporary opera-dance-theater I have encountered in ages,
despite a modest budget, a marginal locale, multilingual libretto, a
gratuitous guilt trip and a tiny company.
Reality was the departure
point for "Blinde
Liebe," based on a young couple who had murdered an elderly man in
revenge for his sexual abuse committed many years earlier.
The opera alternates perspectives of the courtroom testimony with
exuberant dances and vocals by a soprano and countertenor, all
delivered with great immediacy and impact, just inches away from the
audience at the Dance Mission Theater on 24th St.
The performing company
Palindrome hailed from Nuremberg, giving three performances May 26-29
in collaboration with the local instrumentalists of Erling Wold's
Fabrications. The idiom was strongly influenced by German production
modes---especially with dance tending to dance-theater. The net effect
was for most of us a revelation, creating what one might call a "blur
production," where the listener/viewer is totally uncertain of, well,
elaborate, often showing live action with delays and stop-action
effects, further obscuring reality. There was something titillating
about being so horribly disoriented.
The multi-national cast
was headed by the young, diminutive dynamo of an actress from Holland,
Diana Wildschut, plus dancers Helena Zwiauer, Robert Wechsler, and
Aimar Perez Gali, all but Gali being also the choreographers. Singers
were Johannes Reichert and Mairko Wakito. A paragon of versatility,
Wildschut also created the lighting and computer graphics (!).
While the story---much of
it sympathetic to the perspectives of the crime's perpitrators---is a
meaty one, the opera's sour note was its insistence that the audience
was a pleasure-seeking animal totally unsympathetic to Jenny and
I don't mind so much
performers grabbing me in the front row, or making eyes at me. But I
question the effectiveness of an opera built on making the audience
feel profoundly guilty for a rather routine crime-blotter event that
happened eight years ago some 5,000 miles away.
The production did however
grab me. It was yet another highlight of the "San Francisco
International Arts Festival," an event small enough to escape the
notice of the local Sunday paper's arts calendar. But the festival
featuring programs from 10 nations runs May 18-June 5 with a strong
dance emphasis, culminating with the mighty Royal New Zealand Ballet in
a far larger venue June 3-4.
International Arts Festival, at Dance Mission Theater, S.F., and other
locales, through June 5. Info: (415) 978-2787. URL for SFIAF:
www.SFIntlArtsFest.org. URL for Palindrome: www.palindrome.de.
©D. Rane Danubian 2005
D. Rane Danubian has been
the dance and modern-music scene in the San Francisco Bay Area with
-- and a certain amount of salsa -- for years.
These critiques appearing weekly (or sometimes semi-weekly, but never
will focus on dance and new musical creativity in performance, with
into books (by authors of the region), theater and recordings by local
artists as well.
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