© Klaus Rudolph

Michael’s journey around the Earth

Karlheinz Stockhausen

Ensemble Musikfabrik has begun an international tour with an impressive new staged production. The starting point is Vienna. During Pentecost 2008 Carlos Padrissa, who is one of the founding members of the remarkable street theatre group La Fura dels Baus, staged Michaels Reise um die Erde (Michael’s journey around the Earth) for the Austrian Première. This is the 2nd purely instrumental act of Stockhausen’s opera „Donnerstag“ (Thursday) from his „Licht“ (Light) cycle.

Ensemble Musikfabrik’s trumpeter Marco Blaauw plays the role of Michael, the supreme angel who travels to seven destinations around the world with numerous spectacular flights. During his journey he meets Eva, an allegory of life that is performed by Nicola Jürgensen (Bassett horn). The seven stations of this trip represent with their varied thematic emphases the seven weekdays of the „Licht“ (Light) cycle. The whole opera cycle portrays in an exemplary fashion the complete spectrum of life with its poles between war and peace, love and hatred, destruction and resurrection, beauty and ugliness, banality and spiritual depth and is compositionally connected by Stockhausen’s “Superformel” (super formula), with which each player is allocated a musical formula, a colour, a day and certain characteristics. Travel companions are heartily welcome! Further destinations from August 2008 onwards will include Cologne, Warsaw, Venice, Dresden and Paris.

© Reinhard Werner
© Reinhard Werner

Press quotes

He floats to spherical sounds around the hall, playing-headfirst or lying on his back- breathtaking glissandos, that remind us of Dizzy Gillespie or Miles Davis. The trumpeter Marco Blaauw’s superb performance as the main actor in Karl-Heinz Stockhausen’s „Michael’s journey around the world“, is not the only convincing aspect of this Monday evening in Vienna. The second act of „Donnerstag“ (Thursday), from Stockhausen’s monumental work „Licht“ (Light), took place during the Wiener Festwochen 2008 and was enthusiastically received by the Première audience in the Jugendstiltheater in Vienna (Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung) The performance in Vienna was not only convincing because of its delicateness, but also by its high musical quality. The Ensemble Musikfabrik under Peter Rundel played engagingly and very competently. It is well known that Marco Blaauw is a superb musician. It is very pleasing to discover that Nicola Jürgensen is not only a seductive, attractive angelic Eva, but also an excellent Bassett horn player.
Wien (dpa)

The trumpeter becomes literally a skystormer in an astronaut costume. He stands in an open capsule that is connected to beams that are twisted and turned and launched or catapulted through the desolate room. The trumpeter Marco Blaauw plays his instrument as brilliantly as Nicola Jürgensen her velvet sounding Bassett horn, and Carl Rosman and Fie Schouten their clarinets. The „set“ is hardly graspable; everything is in the music of the sounds and their transportation.
Stockhausen’s sound fantasy and strategy, which is brilliantly implemented in the whole cycle by the development of a super formula, is fascinating even in its most complex denseness by its primal energy and his musical hindsight. The aural and visual magic are inseparable.
Süddeutsche Zeitung

Michael, the central figure, is a trumpeter. Marco Blaauw performs his part technically and from the acting point of view virtuosically, despite the breakneck positions he is required to fulfil. Michael encounters an instrumental equivalent with Eva (Nicola Jürgensen), who starts off with farting tones on the Bassett Horn, but finally shares with him an elaborate erotic encounter in astral regions.
The clarinet playing pair of parody swallows (Carl Rosman und Fie Schouten) die prior to that on the cross. The production is held together by three formations of instrumentalists from the „Musikfabrik“, who play with apodictic precision under the skilful conductor Peter Rundel. Stockhausen without contradiction.
Der Standard



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