From the Feuilletons


Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 11.05.2005

Eleonore Büning was extremely moved by Wolfgang Rihm's composition "Memoria - Drei Requiem-Bruchstücke" (three requiem fragments), commissioned by the Memorial Foundation for the opening of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. The work was performed by the Junge Deutsche Philharmonie under Lothar Zagrosek in the Berlin Philharmonie. "In the second movement the drums break out like a disoriented roar of despair, exchanging their ancestral instrumental function with that of the human voice. The choir first lose their words and then their voices, they whisper and groan, rhythmically exhaling in triple piano, until finally their choked throats free themselves, crying out at the top of their lungs, before a high boy soprano's voice issues forth."

Die Welt, 11.05.2005

The Wiener Festwochen international theatre and music festival opened on Saturday and runs to June 19. Almost all the papers give positive reviews of the world premiere of Christoph Marthaler's new production "Schutz vor der Zukunft" (A Shield Against the Future). The play deals with eugenics, and is staged in the art nouveau theatre of the Otto Wagner Hospital above Vienna. The hospital was the stage of murderous medical practices during the Third Reich, when children who were mentally ill, or who simply stood out, were tormented and murdered. Ulrich Weinzierl comments: "At the beginning, the play is dominated by grotesque cynicism. Marthaler's actors are the saddest musical clowns of all time, and their singing is at once spine-chilling and beguiling. Furthermore, all manner of wind instruments are used to create discordant noises that sound dangerously close to flatulence. What brings the piece to life is the stealthy transition from beautiful to ghastly and back." After the intermission, writes Weinzierl, "the audience is placed on the stage, and the fate of the children comes to the fore. Marthaler and his troupe (the voice of Rosemary Hardy and the wonderful Jeroen Willems are unforgettable) create a scenic and musical requiem for the murdered children that is exquisitely tender without being sentimental – a stellar hour in contemporary theatre."

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 11.05.2005

The contractual tug of war is not over yet, but the SZ nonetheless joyfully announces that Klaus Bachler will leave Vienna's Burg Theater to take over artistic direction of the Bayerische Staatsoper, Germany's foremost opera house, in 2008. The current intendant, Sir Peter Jonas, was originally to be replaced by Christoph Albrecht. Yet now, writes Reinhard J. Brembeck, Bavaria's culture minister has proclaimed: "Habemus Intendantem". For Brembeck, "a talent for communication like Bachler's is needed in this job more than a prim dramaturgical line. Everything suggests that Bachler is a marketing man like Sir Peter Jonas. And that is good. For his major task is to keep the capacity of the house at over 90 percent. But an intelligent programme cannot do that alone." In an interview with the paper, Bachler says of himself: "The new lover is always more interesting than the wife."

Frankfurter Rundschau, 11.05.2005

Today the Federal Environmental Office is being opened in Dessau. Christian Thomas describes the building, designed by Berlin architects Matthias Sauerbruch und Louisa Hutton, as "an atoll of organic architecture in an amorphous urban structure, which is defined by railroad embankments, gasworks remains and desolate rows of pre-fab housing blocks. ... Is it a snake? Or a loop? In any case you can walk round the winding building in less than a thousand steps. The atrium roof is like an accordion, unfolding in a north-south direction, and this principle of folding is echoed throughout the entire building." But Thomas doubts that this building will lead to the "urban regeneration" of Dessau. "It is no secret that a significant number of the employees are not planning to centre their lives around Dessau, but will be aiming for a commuter life. Looking round the city you see that it is not only shrinking in the statistics. It is atrophying, greying and dying, morning, noon and night. That also goes for the surroundings of the island where the Environmental Office lands today as if on a patch of virgin soil. Let's hope it won't turn into a hermitage."

Die Tageszeitung, 11.05.2005

Three novels are towering this spring out of the "sagging" mediocrity of young German contemporary literature, declares Gerrit Bartels: Rainer Merkel's "Das Gefühl am Morgen", (morning feeling), Martina Hefter's "Zurück auf Los" (back to go) and, above all, Claudia Klischat's "Morgen. Später Abend" (morning. Late evening). What makes Klischat's novel so engaging is that "she courageously tries to suck the readers into a wake of words, with carefully positioned repetition and parataxis, a sort of stream of consciousness, that sounds for example like this: 'Now she's stepping into the tram, and she's sitting on a seat, and a warm gust of air comes up from below, and the air is warming her behind and this is something Babs Stanebein would enjoy, and feeling this warm air on her behind...' This tone prevails throughout the novel, starting with Tom, the psychologically disturbed pizza delivery boy, who after a night of excessive drinking wakes up in the bed of a strange woman and tries to reconstruct his life; then with Veit, a young criminal who's not that mentally stable either; and in the end with Babs Stanebein, an ageing alcoholic, who Klischat accompanies throughout her day as she leaves for the job centre and returns to her flat." - let's talk european