For 2018, The National Theatre Mannheim and Hotel Pro Forma stage an opera based on Björk’s album Vespertine, inspired by the desire to find a new form of music theatre. It appreciates those popular musical forms that have significantly shaped our understanding of art, pop music and opera.
Björk’s music has a tendency towards the Gesamtkunstwerk and thus might be predestined for adaption to the genre of opera. The traditional opera tells about the drama of love and fate, using a sequence of arias. This structure is paralleled in the pop album. As one of the great musical formal inventions of the 20th century, the pop album deserves an appreciation, as it is about to slowly disappear.
Our version of Vespertine is a visual poem about cells, transformation, frequencies. Every cell has a message. Every cell is dynamic. Vespertine as opera is a musical transcription. The otherworldly living blends with the biological inner world. Biology is a constant existing at all times, changing accordingly to circumstances and condition. So does nature of which we are part.
Vespertine presents our wish to be in control and our need to examine, investigate and understand our biodiversity and intimacy. Vespertine also travels into the world of myth and legends.
Hotel Pro Forma’s staging creates an ethereal space of material and immaterial reflections. A singing landscape moves on the ground, a lab with a view is a construction for science and biotechnology. Above the lab, a boy is the creation of clouds – and imagination.
A female researcher and her Doppelgänger are the protagonists of our version of Vespertine, living deeply inside the secrets of a laboratory. The lab is the shell of experience, of memory, of longing and listening. The two women are contemporary scientists who give birth to the future. Or are they Gaia, who according to the Theogony of Hesiod is the personification of the Earth?
This ancient myth is the foundation for a preoccupation with modern biology, computer sciences and genetics. For the first time in history, mankind is going to create artificial life and, more than that, artificial intelligence. It is the moment where godlike possibilities seem to be within reach, a moment that perhaps will be recognized as mythical in the future. But whether it leads us into a new Golden Age remains uncertain.
Vespertine poses questions concerning the cells, the earth, the nature, the human, and the celestial universe.
A scientist Soprano
Her Doppelgänger Soprano
The Cloud Boy Boy soprano,
The Illuminated Man Baritone
Voice-over Spoken, recorded
The Stones (1st Nature) Chorus of children
The Titans (2nd Nature) Opera Chorus