Elfriede Jelinek / Wojtek Blecharz / Katarzyna Kalwat / Monika Muskała / Andrzej Bauer

Rechnitz. Opera - The Exterminating Angel

  • upcoming performances in season 2019/20

    upcoming performances: March 21st-22nd, 2019

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    The scenario of the opera is based on a drama by Elfriede Jelinek, a Nobel prize winning Austrian writer. The texts presents the tragic events which took place in March 1945 in the castle of Baroness Margrit Batthyány in Austria, Rechnitz. According to the testimonies of witnesses, during the reception, issued by the Baroness Margit von Batthyány, her guests - local SS and Gestapo officers - took part in the massacre of two hundred Jewish forced laborers brought there from Hungary. The mass grave of the slaughtered labourers has never been found and the sluggish progress in the investigation made it possible for the executioners to escape. In Jelinek's play, the events at the castle in Rechnitz are described by Messengers whose relations contradict each other. The play, will not be a reconstruction of the events from 70 years ago from Rechnitz. RECHNITZ. OPERA - The Exterminating Angel is an attempt at understanding the mechanisms of collective memory. Its main theme is the language as an instrument of manipulation, lies and violence. It’s also an account of the contemporary European history, European identity, a part of which is the experience of war and Holocaust. 

    From the director:

    “I was intending to stage 'Rechnitz' for years. In her piece, Elfriede Jelinek describes events that the Austrians turned a blind eye to after war. She observes mechanisms of collective memory, focusing on language as a tool used to manipulate history. The text revolves around the testimonies given by messengers and it shows how language is used to suppress, distort and dilute responsibility, to cover up the truth and talk euphemistically about violation of moral principles, felonies, genocide. Jelinek lays bare the language of public debate. In the light of recent socio-political changes Elinek's text is terrifyingly up-to-date. What is more, a translation by Monika Muskałą has just been published, so staging of 'Rechnitz' is a must.

    It's always been clear to me that music will play an important role in this project and cooperation with Wojtek Blecharz, who explores the performative dimension of opera and opera in his search. Especially the music form of recitative, seemed to me the best way to bright out the hidden extraverbal aspects of the text. An escape to ecstasy or histery is inscribed in opera. Music allows to suppress or dilute the truth; that's why there is a cello band on stage just like the orchestra in the castle of Rechnitz. where the crime was comitted during the break from dancing.”


    From the composer:
    “As an opera-like performance, 'Rechnitz' is primarily based on a new approach to the form of a recitative: searching for close relationships between the text and its music, extracting hidden meanings from the text itself by imposing sound gestures, assigned motives, a prosody or rhythmising the text spoken by an actor. The actor becomes a musician, singer, beatboxer; his way of giving the text is organically combined with the group of four cellos, which follow the narrative, accompany the actors, but also have a performative dimension. The cello quartet symbolizes what has left from the palace orchestra from the time of its former glory, the last 'survivors' who are forced to entertain their degenerate aristocracy and the Nazis accompanying it during the bloody events of March 1945. Cooperation with Katarzyna Kalwat, who showed unusual sense and understanding of music in her previous and repeatedly awarded "Holzwege" performance, describing the story of composer Tomasz Sikorski, is a great challenge for me. In my operatic works, I often refer to the beginnings of the opera genre ("Park-Opera" or "Body-Opera"), therefore the possibility of trying to redefine the genre of the recitative is particularly close to me. In "Rechnitz", which will be my fifth opera, music not only becomes a background for the text, but it complements it and through musicalisation (rhythmization, motifs assigned) gives it in some sense an artificial form. Similarly, the Rechnitz massacre witnesses try to tell the truth without saying it; they construct the language in order to lose it, liquify it, forfeit it in endless connectors, episodes, ornaments and counterpoints.”

    premiere of performative version: September 25th, 2018
    premiere of theatre version: February 7th-8th, 2019

    tickets: 70 zł (regular), 30 zł (reduced), 30 zł (last minute)

    duration: 2 h

    production: TR Warszawa

    The owner of the stage rights for the drama Elfriede Jelinek is Rowohlt Verlag.

    partner of the performance: 

    Cast

    Crew

    • Elfriede Jelinektext
    • Monika Muskałatranslation, adaptation, dramatic adaptation
    • Katarzyna Kalwatdirector, space, costumes
    • Wojtek Blecharzmusic
    • Paulina Górallight design
    • Andrzej Bauer, Wojtek Blecharz, Katarzyna Kalwatartistic supervision over music improvisations and actors performing improvisations
    • Aldona Krasuckavocal preparation
    • Karolina Kraczkowskachoreography
    • Anna Rogóżset designer's assistant
    • Malwina Szumacherstage manager, assisant director
    • Magda Igielskaproduction manager

    "Rechnitz. Opera" zaczyna się jak słuchowisko radiowe. Aktorzy mówią napisany tekst, w tle rozbrzmiewa delikatna muzyka. Sytuacja jednak stopniowo się zagęszcza, wiolonczele coraz bardziej wchodzą w interakcję ze słowami, one zaś nabierają muzycznych wartości, gdy aktorzy mocniej akcentują niektóre z nich, wzmacniają głoski, zmieniają dynamikę i skalę głosu. Powstała w ten sposób zupełnie nowa jakość. Operowa czy teatralna? Nie potrafię na razie na to odpowiedzieć. Czekam natomiast z niecierpliwością na pełną sceniczną wersję utworu Wojciecha Blecharza, którą jeszcze w tym sezonie w TR Warszawa ma wyreżyserować Katarzyna Kalwat. I już ją bardzo polecam.

    Jacek Marczyński, Kultura.onet.pl

    Najważniejsi jednak pozostają aktorzy, którzy demonstrują kreatywność, sztuczność narracji, wydobywając istotę przesłania Jelinek – oto historia zostaje wtłoczona w formę, która uwodzi swoim wyszukanym pięknem, niezwykłością, w dużej mierze niwelując znaczenie samej treści, którą Posłańcy mają do zakomunikowania.

    Tomasz Miłkowski, AICT Polska

    Zarówno aktorzy, jak muzycy częściowo improwizują – trudno ocenić z zewnątrz, na ile, ale ciekawe, że robią to w interakcji (a aktorzy również w interakcji ze sobą) i że to jakoś wychodzi. Aktorzy zresztą też są znakomici, zwłaszcza Magdalena Kuta, przyjmująca od czasu do czasu rolę zbrodniczej hrabiny.

    Dorota Szwarcman, POLITYKA 

    Patrons of the theater