Composer search

Search by surname

Detailed search

Repertoire search

Catalogue search

“Historical Memory with Aesthetic Perception:” Peter Ruzicka’s “CELAN” in Bucharest

On the occasion of the scenic premiere of Peter Ruzicka’s opera “CELAN” in Bucharest on 28 November, Markus Fischer today published the following contribution in the Allgemeine Deutsche Zeitung für Rumänien (ADZ):

“The German-speaking poet and polyglot translator Paul Celan, who was born in 1920 in Czernowitz (then in Rumania) and committed suicide in 1970 in Paris, is not a figure of the past. His poetical oeuvre is still vital today – not only in the narrow circles of scholarship, but also in the areas of the arts, e.g. the field of music. For example, there are over one hundred musical settings of poems of Paul Celan worldwide. Not only Paul Celan’s poetry, however, but also his personal biography is the subject of musical reception.
A decade ago, the German composer Peter Ruzicka created an opera entitled “Celan” that received its world premiere in 2001 in Dresden, followed by productions in Mainz, Darmstadt Cologne and Bremen. During the course of last year’s International Music Festival “George Enescu,” Ruzicka’s Celan opera was performed in Bucharest once, albeit only in a concertante version.
This “Music Theatre in Seven Sketches,” the German libretto of which (by Peter Mussbach) was brilliantly translated into Rumanian by Sorin Georgescu, has now been produced by Vera Nemirova for the Rumanian stage for the first time at the Bucharest National Opera in cooperation with the Bremen Theatre. Vlad Conta is responsible for the musical direction, with the rehearsal of the choir in the hands of Stelian Olariu. The composer himself was present at the Rumanian premiere of his Celan opera and also participated at a roundtable discussion immediately prior to the opera premiere, at which the significance of modern contemporary music for the operatic repertoire of an opera house of a capital city was emphasised.
On the one hand, biographical events and encounters in Celan’s life took shape on stage: his friendship with the writer Petre Solomon and the poetess Nina Cassian, the pain over the murder of his parents in a concentration camp, his various love experiences, his marriage to a Frenchwoman, the so-called Goll Affair, at which Celan was confronted with accusations of plagiarism and, finally, his desperate plunge into the Seine.
On the other hand, the historical dimension was included in the events portrayed on stage: the persecution and annihilation of the Jews, the Shoa, the Holocaust, and beyond that, the anti-Semitism of the post-war period embodied by the aggressively demonic figure of the waiter. The most impressive scenes of the opera surely include the Jerusalem choir of the fourth scene, in which the heavenly music, longing for redemption, stands in blatant contrast to the actions taking place on stage: during the spherical-ethereal singing, the singers of the opera choir undress, just as the deported Jews in the annihilation camps had to undress before being led into the gas chambers. (...)
The music itself works with a variety of means: sound fields on a symphonic scale alternate with differentiated sonic backdrops, harmonic choral songs with declamatory passages, atonal cantilenas with pure sprechgesang and tender noise textures with rhythmic drama. The music carries the word and gives it room, remaining subtle during the entire opera, in the fortissimo passages as well. (...)
The interweaving of biography and historical events can be studied in a plethora of details of this successful production: library tables turn into memorial plaques which remind us of the names of murdered Jews, library reading-lamps become eternal lights ignited on the graves of the murdered ones. This is a piece of music theatre, therefore, that combines historical memory with aesthetic perception – an opera which becomes a scene of both historical and artistic insight. The next performance of this work, well worth seeing, hearing and experiencing, will take place on 29 January 2011 at the Bucharest National Opera.”


» Show all news