Medea alone – interesting, yet ….

Medea‘ the old myth of the furious woman, passionate, betrayed, full of revenge .. has been reworked by numerous writers and theater plays, but among the more interesting interpretations are surely the one of C.Wolf’s polyphone ‘Medea. Voices‘ and Heiner Müller’s text, which he had straightened down to the essential staff.
Stripped down further to center solely around the dramatic female figure, who tries to reassure herself in her rage – ‘I am smart, I am Medea.’ – is the adaption of Heiner Müller’s transformations – embed in the opera from Pascal Dusapin for the latest opera-choreography by Sasha Waltz and Guests.

One of the characteristics of the works of S.Waltz and Guests is the interplay of the various performative forms as developing from opera, dance theater and free performative stagings. Consequently the piece enables a short, but rich experience, which nourishes the eye – with excellent dance episodes -, as the ear – with an extravagant mixture of modern and classical elements – for this evening. Yet, it would leave a disparate sensation, wouldn’t the dramatic constancy of the ‘Medea’ part – words and score done by coloratura soprano Caroline Stein – hold it together.

And then – all out of the blue – there are these break-through glitters – sudden sparkles of the stronger visual moments, which steam directly from theatrical and purely performative backgrounds and one feels like tossed close to the emotional abyss expressed in Medea’s singing, just to be redrawn before the gap releases its disturbing ambivalent power.

Scenes like these – despite inherenting the most powerful expressions – were only allowed to sparkle for a sheer moment, before rolled back in fear that they would unfold fully into their powerful expressions adequate to Medea’s disturbing and dissonant outcry.

As described in the critique below, scenes like the opening rolling chain of bodies into the stage, the coming alive of the antique frieze, the desperate Medea designing circles with chalk around herself, and the powerful fans near the end are introducing the strongest impact, creating the hope and desire that yet not seen and felt images invent their very own magic of delivering … Yet – they break at the very moment of their building-up ….

Nevertheless one does not leave unsatisfied, but with the enforced desire that the sensed potential would have been able to be translated until a closure, or at least into the tension of an open end … Something equivalent to the promise the enormous fans created by their powerful and noisy cleansing of the stage and acoustic field ….

Excerpt from critic ‘Mourning at full throttle’ (June 2007):

… two moments offer some sense of the potential contained in her approach to “Medea”. A stone frieze with antique figural groups, projected onto the stage wall, evokes the era of mythology; in March, Waltz’s ensemble initially presented excerpts of her “Medea” in front of Berlin’s Pergamon Altar. In Luxembourg, the frieze comes to life, as the dancers embodying the relief, the stone, begins to move. A fantastic moment in the visualization of dead history, the becoming-conscious of an archaic unconscious. Also cited is the underwater frieze at the beginning of “Dido & Aeneas”, that Cinemascope aquarium of nautical-erotic passion. Once upon a time, the infant killer was happily in love.

Finally, droning fans placed at the sides provide an earsplitting whirlwind. The wind machine destroys all choreographic order. Save yourself if you can, here comes Medea, bride of the wind, to rob us of our composure. If only temporarily.

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