Tell (2015) – English

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A heroic Singspiel with texts by Friedrich Schiller
by Komarov / Gaudenz / Arnold

People have congregated. ‘Tell’ is being performed. Four heroes/heroines sing about past deeds, their loneliness and the finite nature of human existence. Swapping roles, they reconstruct heroic poses, dabble in revenge, love, killing and dying. They strive for freedom, and sing out against injustice and oppression.

The four classically trained singers are accompanied by a quintet and a small amateur choir.

The first written reference to an apple shot is in a Danish book of fairy tales that appeared in around 1200. In his ‘White Book of Sarnen’, Hans Schriber transposed this tale to the alpine world of central Switzerland, with Tell taking part in the liberation of the confederates from the Habsburgs. With his dramatization of 1804, Schiller presented the Swiss with their definitive founding myth.

Ilja Komarov’s libretto condenses Schiller’s drama and the adaptation makes do with just four heroes/heroines. Three friends/enemies stand alongside the chamois hunter Tell – who did not participate in the Rütli conspiracy, and who carried out the tyrannicide on his own as an act of revenge. In addition to the themes everyone is familiar with – the Rütli Oath, the apple shot, Hohle Gasse – the four protagonists relate their version of the story. Emerging against a background of familiar images is a prototypical narrative of revenge, violence and freedom. The reduction of the material dehistoricizes it, while the act of re-telling is strengthened.

In keeping with the form of opera, all texts are sung. The four classically trained singers are accompanied by a quintet and a small amateur choir. The audience is immersed in a here-and-now version of the tale.

Premiere: Dienstag, 19. Mai 2015, Rote Fabrik Zürich, Fabriktheater
MAY: Zürich, Rote Fabrik: Do 21.5., Fr 22. 5., S0 24.5
JULY: Uster, Hinterhaltfestival : Samstag, 4. Juli 2015
NOVEMBER: Zürich, Rote Fabrik: Do 19., Fr 20., Mo 23. Nov., 20 Uhr /So 22. Nov, 18 Uhr
NOVEMBER: Basel, Gare du Nord: Mi 25.11., Do 26.11. 2015
DECEMBER: Schaffhausen, Kunsthalle Vebikus: Fr. 11.12. 2015
FEBRUARY 2016: Chur, Theater Chur: Do. 4.2. und Fr. 5.2. 2016
APRIL 2016: Bern, Tojo Theater: Fr. 8.4. und Sa. 9.4.2016

SINGER/PERFORMER: Jeannine Hirzel, Philipp Caspari, Niklaus Kost, Raphaël Favre | MUSICIANS: Jan Ratschko, Nina Hitz, Christian Wolfarth, Ilja Komarov, Trixa Arnold | DIRECTION CHOIR Patric Ricklin | COMPOSITION: Ilja Komarov | DIRECTOR: Corsin Gaudenz | DRAMATURGY: Trixa Arnold | COSTUMES: Nicole Henning | STAGE SETTING: Frieda Schneider | ADMINISTRATION: Lukas Piccolin | A «Verein Freies Musiktheater Zürich»-Production in Co-Production with Fabriktheater Rote Fabrik Zürich, Gare du Nord Basel und dem Stadttheater Chur. | Gefördert durch Stadt Zürich Kultur, Fachstelle Kultur Kanton Zürich, Pro Helvetia, Migros Kulturprozent, Kulturelles Basel, Stadt und Kanton Schaffhausen, Stadt und Kanton Bern und Schweizerische Interpretenstiftung.

Press commments

Tom Hellat, Tages Anzeiger (2015)
The latest production of ‘Tell’ begins in a relaxed manner with the sound of bells ringing quietly in the background – no fear of clichés here, then. The director Corsin Gaudenz and dramatic advisor Trixa Arnold recount Schiller’s tale in a very calm and unaffected way. They are not interested in relating a heroic tale, but in projections in the inner world of the characters. (…) Minor characters take centre stage, footnotes get elevated to main text, (…) the characters become human.
Such a relaxed use of major and minor keys is rarely heard in new music. (…) but the composer Ilja Komarov isn’t working his way through a catalogue of sty- les. One is constantly aware of a droll sense of humour gleaming through the melancholy of the music. The most honest description would be ‘conservative avant-garde’. The best of both worlds: the dignity that comes with historical forms of expression, on the one hand, and on the other, the right to combine or override such forms in order to create a new sound. (…) After decades of hy- ped up deconstruction, that’s quite a development. It really is. Perhaps it even foreshadows a new modernity.

Thierry Frochaux, PS (2015)
Following his involvement with dance, theatre
and circus productions, Corsin Gaudenz has now turned his attention to (ope- ra) singing. To our surprise and joy, this new cooperatively developed field is intrinsically successful once again. (…) The evening is rife with droll humour. (…) The performance takes place in a circular area, with the audience looking towards the centre of the stage, where the musicians are and where a tiny area is free for the singers to perform in. (…) As with previous projects, the striving for perfection is evident in numerous small details.

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© Fotos by Julia Hintermüller