From the Feuilletons


Monday 28 August, 2006

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 28.08.2006

Reinhard J. Brembeck complains about a widespread neglect of contemporary music. In the 2004/2005 season, just 3.6 percent of works performed were world premieres. "That is appallingly little," Brembeck writes. "The clear dominance of established works doesn't exactly give outsiders the impression that classical music is a new, exciting art market. Instead the major focus is almost exclusively on subtle nuances of interpretation, which is why for a long time now, no music criticism worth the name has existed. Music criticism today consists almost entirely of taste-oriented interpretation-criticism. The starting point for any fitting assessment of a performance should be a description of the work. Nowadays, however, this plays a marginal role at best."

Die Welt, 28.08.2006

Uwe Schmitt is astonished to see that the Cirque du Soleil, founded in 1984 by a couple of Canadian hippies, has become one of the most successful circus enterprises in the world. "Its five shows in Las Vegas sell a million dollar's worth of tickets a day, added to that is a permanent performance at Disney World in Orlando and the travelling ensembles. The circus, which is now a mammoth with 3,000 employees (of which 900 are performers) with headquarters in Montreal, is expecting eight million visitors this year. 40 million people travel to Las Vegas each year, not for the one-armed bandits and roulette tables, that are also offered in the Indian reservations next door. 'They come for an experience,' says Steve Wynn, whose new 2,4 billion dollar hotel is home to an enormous aquatic production of the Cirque."

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 28.08.2006

The Ruhrtriennale has opened with "Life is a Dream," written in 1634 by Calderon de la Barca, performed by the National Theatre of Gent. While impressed by the converted machine hall in which it plays – "from the outside, a dark castle with a stately staircase, from the inside a light-flooded cathedral with lovely round arch windows" - Martin Krumbholz is not convinced by Johan Simons' staging. "He dramatically abbreviated the text, as it would have been done by a classic director; according to the programme notes, the holes that result are filled with the 'autonomous space' required by the music and images. Indeed, the performance of the drama turns into an opulent 'musical': an orchestra positioned in a seldom-used gallery plays the pleasant quasi-baroque music by Peter Vermeersch and covers up the leaps in the dramaturgy that the director ignores, because this patchworked staging is not looking for a narrative line. The prince's intellectual and moral profile remains vague; actor Aus Greianus plays him as an elfish and lovable goblin who frolics around in his underwear from which he looks out innocently; the audience has to accept his purportedly suddenly gained intelligence as a given."

Saturday 26 August, 2006

Süddeutsche Zeitung, 26.08.2006

Gustav Seibt fills the entire first page of the culture section with a piece on twin exhibitions on the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation in Berlin and Magdeburg, both of which open today. 2006 marks the two hundred year anniversary of the empire's demise. "Samuel Pufendorf, the 17th century expert in the law of nations, called the Holy Roman Empire a 'sort of monstrosity.' The earthly legacy of this monster now lies gleaming in this double enterprise – almost a monster in itself – for an overtaxed public. Walking around this sublime warehouse you have to think what an absurd, baffling treasure chest our history is. One thing that does become clear, however, and this is the real merit of this enormous effort, is that the critical formulations of younger historians who paint German history as a westward march are incorrect. For centuries, the German elites wanted to be Romans – what a dream!"

Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 26.08.2006

In a rather grim text, György Konrad weighs the possibility of a second Holocaust. Critical of the European view of Israel, he writes, "The threatened West has found a wonderful alternative target. Europe cast the Jews out during World War Two and offered some of them a return to the Holy Land or at least away from here. And now the good Europeans see that the children and grandchildren of the Jews won't allow themselves to be driven out of the Middle East. That perplexes them so much that they take sides with the Arabs and against Israel."

Berliner Zeitung, 26.08.2006

Carmen Böker talks with art historian Ruth Hanisch, author of "Absolutely Fabulous! - Architecture and Fashion", about fashion's relationship to architecture. "After all, Prada's fashion isn't nearly as avant-garde or innovative as for example Comme des Garcons. But it does go in for trendy architecture. That lends the brand the kind of sophistication that makes it attractive to well-educated high earners. Conversely, often the most innovative labels refrain from using spectacular architecture. Martin Margiela prefers spaces with an old-building type charm to them. So there is no necessary connection between avant-garde fashion and avant-garde architecture. In fact designers are often looking for contrasts." - let's talk european