I just want to add a few lines to all was said, maybe in some aspects, more provocative this time. I am one interpreter of Inori, but I was also the body of Luzifer in Donnerstag and Montag, so, you have to forgive my arrogance. I do not think that Lydia brought the piece so much to her. To make a regie is an enorm struggle, and she did her job. She might have behave like a"„daughter of the instant“, a "daughter of our time“ like did the others regissers. As Luzifer’s body I was dress like a punk, it was the punk’s period in 1985 in London; Stockhausen did not stop this option. This expression came from soufism…“son or daughter of the time“. It is also an advise given by some great soufi master : "be a son of your time, of the instant“ and they even often adapt the practise to the time. Karlheinz was universal but was also a "son of his time“; for example, by bringing technologie, even computers, helicopters, in the world of music. He seemed to be out of the world but he was also deeply in the world, just think of his comments on 9.11.2001. Of course, psychiatric atmosphere, sexe is recurent in a lot of theater's regies nowadays, but does one have to be puritan to direct a piece or go on stage ? Sexe is also present in the piece of Stockausen, in Mondeva and even in Michael Reise . Is it not written that Michael plays with the "Dämpfer of his trompet humorvoll and with erotischer Bedeutung…“ ? Try to play with such an object in your hand, in that way, and then put it in the regie. And I do not speak of the terrible text in Luzifer Zorn, because it is not the subject. I remember one anecdocte. A beautiful woman came to Karlheinz after a concert and said to him : „Maestro, you music makes me vibrate“, he asked her : „Everywhere ?“ So must we start suddenly to behave like, as we say in french…« des veuves effarouchées » ? Concerning to be or not religious. I want to come back to this point : Ronconi was ex-communist, homosexual and atheist. I remember very well some discussions with Karlheinz about this : it did not condemn Ronconi, on contrary ! Because Ronconi , after Donnerstag, did the regie of Samstag. Bogdanov was not religious also ; he liked to eat, drink and fuck. He also worked with Karlheinz. Of course we do not see the sign of Michael in the piece, and the blue color of the costum; maybe Lydia tried to make the piece more universal ? Thomas evoques the reference to Urantia book that was disturbing him sometimes. I said once to Karlheinz that I could not enter in Urantia book, and that for me the Holy Bible was enough, it did not change anything, he went on working with me. You can enjoy soufi symbolism without being muslim, and knowing what is in the Qoran, what is Simorg, Qibla, Kaaba, Batin, Zahin etc. You can be a muslim, without wearing a djellaba. I know that a lot of people have problem with some esoteric and symbolic in Stockhausen world, even accusing Stockhausen team to be like a sect. Until 1980 Béjart was still saying that he was soufi, then muslim by the fact. He stopped saying it when extremism started to point his ugly nose. But he went on to create, and the works were not less spiritual. We are in 2016, some people were killed because some artists made jokes or caricatures on the prophet Mohamed; some others people were killed because they were listening music. Daesh condemns and kills people because they do not believe in God, or worst, because they believe in another God. Are we going to condemn Lydia because she might have joke about some aspect of the spirituality of Karlheinz ? I do not dare to imagine, if she had answered , "no"to the question : do you believe in God ? I believe that no one can destroy really the real essence of prophète Mohamed, because it is deeply Protected and Blessed, and I believe that this production of Donnerstag was carried by Karlheinz himself. And must we forget Kathinka who worked for almost 9 months in Kürten with all the soloists on it, and two months in Basel ? Is she not also a garant and a protective Angel ? The soloists musician singers and dancers are also inlighted spirits by themselves and they brought to us the energies of Michael ! But of course all these critics are also positive, because they will certainly help the process for the future, to go on the work, to discover it deeper, and maybe some mistakes, can be corrected for september; but as we say in french: "on ne doit pas jeter le bébé avec l'eau du bain !"
I would love so much that the one who are sad or depressed because of this production, recover joy, and......humor !!!
This is such a terrible time for me to have such limited access to Internet, and no access to an actual computer (I write this on an iPad mini) ... there is so much to say, especially when everyone here here is raising such important points, all of which make me think a little more. I also had a very helpful discussion with Suzee and Johanna tonight, which added much to my insights.
I think one of the things we would all agree on is that it is such a shame that there are so few performances of these astonishing works, and so we have to hope for so much from the few that we get - loyalty to the score; loyalty to Stockhausen's huge and ultimately ungraspable vision; productions that explore new things and from new angles; interpretations that excite and engage those of us who know the works well, as well as those who know them not at all; productions that capture the depth and breadth of LICHT's massive layers of meaning, that show us the vibrations of the hugeness of the cosmos and of the tiniest atom; productions that show us Michael as Christos, Hermes, Thor and a little boy stumbling his way through a harsh and difficult childhood; productions that show us the spirituality of Urantia, and of the Bible and the Koran, as well as of the atheist. I guess we will never get all of that in one production, which wouldn't be quite so bad if the productions were not so rare. So it comes down, maybe, to what we think is the most important of all these things, and more, to bring to the few productions we are able to have.
While I liked and greatly admire the things that Lydia Steier chose to emphasise, I also lament the things that were sacrificed in the process. I lament them now the more I have talked about them with Suzee and Johanna, and read about them here. It doesn't lessen my respect for what Lydia achieved - I really do think her insights into Michael and his learnings about what it is to be a human were astonishIng - but it does convince me, too, that these works are still so new, and so little known and rarely staged, that we cannot afford to lose our knowledge of what Stockhaisen conceived: a knowledge that is still held by so few. This is not about museums, but about keeping the works really, really alive. I don't believe we should stop or decry productions like this one. We just need to do everything we can to encourage and promote and advocate for the LICHT operas to be staged more often and in more places, so that in all the creativity and new insights that people like Lydia Steier bring us, we are also reminded, always and everywhere, of the real piece from which her vision has sprung.
Two remarks: 1.) All who discuss here know Stockhausen and LICHT very well. But what happened to those people in the Basel audience who don't? My partner - living with a Stockhausen devotee :-) - knows more than many other of them. But even she got confused seeing Michael as this Stockhausen persiflage. "Did Stockhausen consider himself as Michael?" she asked me. This shows which kind of confusion this interpretation might cause which is terrible! 2.) I also ask myself what the legal situation is: Wouldn't Kathinka and Suzee and/or the Stockhausen Stiftung as owner of the rights have had the possibility to stop this? I'm not a lawyer therefore I ask. I met Kathinka in September in Munich and already then she seemed to be not very happy about what was going on in Basel. What would have happened if from the Kürten side someone would have said: "Look, either you keep to the spirit of the work or we drop that." I cannot imagine that Stockhausen would have accepted this kind of blasphemous attack against his work.
It seems to be difficult to make things clear here - talking is better sometimes. I described my little conversation with Lydia Steier to show that she is somebody who demands high professionalism and is not a chaotic eccentric who wants to „épater“ . It is symptomatic that she apologized for that in a German music journal! In that respect she is not at all Zeitgeist! Steier does not resemble those German theater directors who want to look like what they think artists must look like, with strange hair, rings in the nose, and shabby clothes. Please forgive me but sometimes (!) such things reveal truths, too. And my question for God, dear Alain, was not meant to condemn her if she would have said 'no' but to complete my impression. In Germany, 90% of directors are atheists - which is no moral problem for me at all but surely mainstream today. Steier answered 'yes', and therefore, I dared to conclude that even problematic staging decisions like the criticism of devotion in Act Three were founded in the attempt to tell a coherent story and not in a concession to Zeitgeist. Additionally, the more I think of the production, I admire the stage design by Barbara Ehnes. I like to be drawn into a production, I like to be overwhelmed, I like grande opéra. There was much to see, and I am grateful for that.
Christian, only one even shorter remark. Joseph Drew recently wrote a fantastic dissertation on „MICHAEL from LICHT: A Character Study of Karlheinz Stockhausen's Hero”. He quotes the tenor Pike who worked with Stockhausen: „Michael = Stockhausen. Full stop.” Of course, Drew discusses MICHAEL in much more detail but the quote shows that Steier is not alone.
To Christian's contribution: I would be very cautious to come with the lawyer. You know the talent of theater-people to scandalize everyone who seems to threaten the socalled artistic freedom and to play the role of a poor prosecuted innocent. I would rather be confident, that finally quality will get the victory and become evident. And even in our example it seems to be, that the highly questionable even unbearable can have positive consequences. For the critiques, as I noticed them, are mainly positive, and some end with the wish, that the opera houses should take LICHT-operas into their repertoire. That would be the best success we could think of, and I would praise Mrs. Steier for that enthusiastically! And if she should be the director of another Stockhausen-production: Why not hope that she is able to go more into the master's concepts and ideas?
Adorján, even if Julian Pike said this: Michael = Stockhausen, it is simply wrong. Michael is in the same way = Adorján, because he is a universal energy that works in everybody, in the same way as Luzifer and Eva. That is the first insight you must get, when you work with LICHT, and the pity of Basel was, that there was no idea of this (for the cycle) elementary fact.
Dear Thomas, you surely know that I know that what you just explained. I do not want to repeat myself; I tried to explain not my view but my view of what the director might have intended. Nevertheless, it remains true that every decision excludes hundred other decisions which might have a right, too. Let us follow Richard Wagner in this respect: „Next time, we do everything in a completely different way!”
Thomas, my question about the legal aspect is whether the Kürten ladies must accept every crazy idea as soon as they have given the permission to perform a Stockhausen work. It would be interesting how this question is answered in the contract. And it would be terrible if we would have to accept every stupid idea only to get a LICHT performance. This price would be too high!
My understanding, Christian, is that no, the Verlag does not have to accept every crazy idea, especially when they feel the score is not being correctly performed. But these can be difficult decisions to make at the final stages of a production, which is often when these ideas become apparent, when musicians have already spent many, many months preparing, and the are audiences already anticipating the performance. So the Verlag always tries to balance these considerations when making these decisions. That is my understanding.
I feel that it could be useful to have a discussion-forum on the music of Stockhausen. There are so many people from all over the world, young and old, learned and eager to get into contact with this musical world: musicologists, composers, musicians, music lovers; people who plan concerts - who write books or have to give lectures and so on. So there should be much stuff, many ideas that we can share. And when we have open questions, there may be people who studied just that and could give a hint or a stimulus.
A problem might be the English language, but i feel that is the only possibility that many people who are interested can participate. And we can exercise tolerance to mistakes!