I would not call myself photographer, but actually I am very specific in my interests in this matter. Of course I happen to take pictures of my cats or flowers, or the wonderful city I live in. My true passion though is theatre photography and not just as it is: the main thing is that I don’t use AF lenses. All my pictures are taken with vintage manual lenses like Jupiter or Pentacon and DSLR Canon body. And while this often results in not-that-sharp focus or excessive grain, I cannot let go the soul of these old heavy pieces of metal and glass for lightweight, easy AF lenses. I just play with M mode a bit more.

 

Sweet taste of blood

with Nincs hozzászólás

“Every theatre is an asylum, but an opera theatre is the ward for incurables.”

(Franz Schalk)

Klára Kolonits
Klára Kolonits

Being a core patient of the mentioned ward for incurables for more than ten years already, I’ve seen a lot. Considering that I was somehow almost instantly also backstage, I’ve seen maybe even more. By now I know that this genre does generate emotions – stronger, that any other one. Its very essence, the extending of time with emotion-soaked phrases, sounds like a deviation. There is rather an exuberant amount of madness considered normal – and I take advantage of it myself, as it just feels good in the indifference characteristic for the times we happen to live in now.

And so came the newest production of Lucia di Lammermoor in Budapest – an opera that I don’t didn’t like and regarded as an extremely boring example of bel canto, an opera that I suffered through in its whole exactly once (in concert, by the way). Well, being honest I wasn’t expecting these emotions. I think even the emotions themselves, the platonic ideas of every possible human emotion were not expecting  their appearances in this overwhelming intensity that came before, through, after and all around this premiere.

But in the middle of all that, the show. The show that genuinely reaches deepest, most obscure fibres of a human soul. And not with a cheap drama. A production that in its very matter and essence puts aside all of the background explosions.

The audience is seated and told a story which is unpleasantly contemporary, with an accent on unpleasantly rather than contemporary – the better word would be maybe timeless, if it was less pompous. A story, which we maybe already saw or heard, or even live in: and still we decide to ignore its existence. Pathology which may not seem that bad, we may think. A little dysfunctional, a little strange family, but nothing that special, there are worst cases, we assure ourselves. We shall not overthink it, we shall not interfere, we shall just stay shut and go on – regardless if we are the sad, complex villain, or lost lover, or dumb priest… regardless if we play a mute role of a spirit or the vocally elaborate protagonist.

We stay silent, we don’t overthink, we accept the anomalies.

Up to a point where we find ourselves faced with a blood-dripping murderer, maybe in our mirror. And even after the tragedy happened, for a while, we tend to negate the horror, we listen to the silence instead.

The silence after tastes rich and sweet like blood. And heartbreakingly sweet is the wordless plea of a lost soul, in her stolen seconds of never experienced happiness – magnified to minutes of spiritual, and even physical ecstasy through endless phrases and painstakingly punctuated with the most expressive high F that one may think of – and even this ridiculously high note, barely touched in a passage but undoubtedly there (as assured with a held one in the very end) is sang with intense colour and emotions.

I won’t repeat the same that numerous reviewers already said (in the moment I am publishing this post, we arrived to a number of 9 or 10, and mainly reasonable, reviews, that give justice to the show, see here for example). My job is not writing reviews. I’m living this Lucia, not watching it from a seat in the press row of Erkel Theatre with safety belt fastened and obligatory drink at the bar bought in the intermission.

One thing though: I loved it to bits and I’m sad that tomorrow there will be the last show. It brought emotions and an immense amount of beauty, and some breathtakingly good singing.

I brought pictures instead, a personal selection, to show and not tell, as the principal idea of writing says by the way.

And a video, just because it’s amazing.

 

OPTIC: T.M. 1:35, f=200, Jupiter-37-A

Lucia di Lammermoor, Hungarian State Opera – Erkel Theatre, premiere November 18th 2016

Stage: Máté Szabó, Music Direction: Balázs Kocsár

Lautrec va danser

with Nincs hozzászólás

OPTIC: Helios-44-M-4, Jupiter-37-A
MüPa, Fesztivál Színház, premiere: September 23rd 2016, production of Gergye Krisztián Társulat


 

After premiere note:

I saw the show twice: on general rehearsal and on the premiere, and probably I would need another two or three. In the same time, there were spectators who felt once was too much. Their right.

Gergye demands. Of course, his oneirical, suffocating, perverted production can – but doesn’t have to – be enjoyed out of context, to some extent. However its true value lies in the idea, in the throughout understanding of time and place, personalities, stories, pictures. I’m usually the first person to brag about useless provocativeness in the theatre

– and if it was the case, I would probably hate this show.

But this was not the case. I love this show. Every scene was there for a reason. Every detail.

It makes sense, it’s raw, in the best possible meaning. It’s uneasy. The scenes overlay each other, and are usually built up from more planes. The cast is small, yet it seems crowded like a Paris public house at midnight. Almost overwhelming concentration of extreme emotions is alternated with striking void and loneliness.

Also, it’s poetical. And beautiful, though not in an obvious way. It cites Lautrec’s paintings and lithographs, just as it cites his complex personality and environment he created and lived in.

And there’s not only the vision, but the music as well, and voices. The music direction of György Philipp consists also of his own singing (I enjoyed all the numbers, Aristide was my favourite). However, the dominating voice was to be the soprano’s – and I don’t mean only the most obvious kind of voice emission that you would expect from an opera singer. Klára Kolonits

in an incredibly mellifluous way melts together breaths, sighs, purrs, whispers and spoken words in French and Hungarian, in addition to her – as usual – impeccable singing,

which here spreads from cabaret couplets or Satie’s Gymnopédie up to the coloraturas of the Offenbach’s Doll Song. The colour palette of her voice is at least as rich as the visual side of the production with its picturesque costumes, lights and make up.

Though I’m not dance specialist, I need it to tell a story – and here it told million stories. The ladies – Mahji Torres, Katalin Lőrinc, Anita Barabás and Marica Tárnok – each had their own distinct line and silhouette. They acted, danced and contributed to the soundscape as well. It doesn’t even make sense to distinguish whom I liked more or less, because all the cast was so incredibly melted into their roles, that they are virtually irreplaceable, they are all necessary, they all belong there. I have to mention though that I was enchanted by Mahji’s scenes.

She’s like a vulnerable china porcelain cup with a double shot of good whisky inside.

Full of contrasts and life. The musicians were in the constant movement as well, and the great puppet master of the show – Krisztián Gergye – impersonated Lautrec himself.

It might be similar form to a review after all, though I didn’t intend it to be one.

I just wanted to add something to these pictures, because Lautrec va danser is not only graceful photo topic, it’s much more. But it demands. It throws a glove. It’s not for everyone – I don’t think Gergye actually intended it for everyone – but it will have its way. Because – putting away the whole complex story, relations, pictures – THEATRE lives in it,  THEATRE in capital letters, genuine and alive. And such productions will find their audience –

there is something very primal in the need of theatre and I think this show can answer this need.

For me, it did.

Thank you all, köszönöm, merci.

 

 

 

GermanTrip II/II

with Nincs hozzászólás

…Cendrillon in Komische Oper and what it has in common with overpriced plane tickets and messed up airports.

Some time passed since the first part of this report saw the daylight, but being a full time witch one has to deal with least expectable circumstances on a daily basis. Anyway, let me begin with the last paragraph from the first post:
In the late morning I left for Berlin, on the way having acknowledged that Köln/Bonn is an absolutely pleasant, clean airport with WiFi, good coffee and reasonable prices. The Berlin part of my trip will follow in the next post shortly (which is now), featuring Cendrillon in Komische Oper, a brief memory of Rusalka I saw in 2009, as well as the most incredible travel of my several thousand years old life.

I found Schönefeld airport to be not too big but rather acceptable and clean. I headed to Bahn. I was already sitting inside, when I realised the ticket looks like it wanted to be validated. Just that there was no validating machine onboard, so in the last two minutes before departure I managed to jump off, find the device on the station and get the date printed on my ticket.
I have to admit, I sort of like Berlin, even if it’s the second time in my life I was visiting it and AGAIN Unter den Linden was a big mess just like in 2009 when I first attended Agnieszka’s performance in Komische Oper (Rusalka then) – and it was the first time we actually met (in this century) but the friendship was instant (well, Polish witches recognize each other quite immediately).
So then, Unter den Linden was “under construction” though it bore all signs of deconstruction when I arrived. I was instructed by Agnieszka how to reach the Home of Dragons and I found it without major problems (except for I was supposed to look for Ampelmann shop, and I had a minute of confusion when I was passing next to Dussmann (you know, for me it could have been Rossmann or Leiermann as well) but after all Dragons being magical creatures called me from their place so I got there quite quickly.
And again, I am going to rewind fast forward to the evening, for the witches time is witches time and not to be disclosed. However, before the show I had the chance to snap a couple of pictures as I always wanted, during the characterization. Zuzka, the makeup artist was wonderful and I enjoyed watching her work. I also enjoyed the incredible atmosphere of Komische Oper, where everyone from the cleaning lady up to Barrie Kosky greets each other with a broad smile, where languages swirl as quick as smiling faces (á propos, the face of Hungarian conductor when I started to speak Hungarian to him was priceless!).

Minutes before the show I met another fellow Polish witch Iwona, whom I spent the evening with – couldn’t have been better company, we were chatting as crazies all the time (and who knows me, knows that I am not necessarily a big talker in a new company). In the meantime I could not resist the temptation of snapping a selfie in the dressing room as I usually do in any theatre I happen to be in

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But well, why I need to write this post is not the difference between Ampelmann and Leiermann or listing names of the members of magical societies, neither is it the fact that I surprised Henrik with my Hungarian.

The reason is Cendrillon, which was breathtaking.

First and foremost, the staging was insanely good. From the first seconds up the the last. It is funny (plump Herren from the choir in romantic ballet tutus á la Cinderella’s dress from Disney’s movie…) and touching at the same time, beautifully, precisely done, well lighted, with wonderful costumes. The fairytale was moved to the ballet school, and I don’t want to spoil the details of the incredibly touching story. Please, PLEASE, everyone who can go and see this live. You won’t regret, I promise. From the title Cinderella (sweet and gracious Nadja Mchantaf), through Prince Charmant (precise, secure Karolina Gumos) and Madame de la Haltière (hilarious Agnieszka Zwierko, whom German press baptised as Mezzogranate some time ago and it was oh so precise) up to the silent role of Old Fairy (heart-wrenching and fragile Evelyn Gundlach), they were singing, dancing (Nadja en pointe!!!!!), playing wonderfully. I could write about my personal taste for timbres but this is not the case. The timbres were well chosen for the roles, they simply added a plus layer to the character. Everyone was simply great (and this is not a sponsored post 🙂 ). I was laughing and crying at the same time.

Side note: it is so rare for me to love a production to bits: and this year it happened three times. First was Traviata of Nadine Duffaut (and it deserves a couple of lines as well, now that I have begun to write about the shows again, I will add them to my photo-post), second Cendrillon and third Così fan tutte (essay coming soon).

For more information see Komische site with pictures, full cast and press. I did not resist though, and I would like to present the trailer as well, which is surprisingly good and transmits the atmosphere of the show.

The afterparty was big and loud, though the witches know better and we migrated quite quickly to Komische Casino, the home of Flammkuchen and Veranza.

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Agniesia, Matt, myself and Iwonka

The wonderful evening lasted up to some very early hour of the following day, and so we made a discovery that metro in Berlin does not operate at such an insane time.

I could write: this is the end, next day I went home and this would be true. But just partially.
The original plan was, the bus to Tegel runs every couple of minutes so I go out at 10, I reach there in 30 minutes and then my flight departs at 12.15.
First, my phone decided it won’t charge during the night so I needed to try to charge it in the morning which was only partially successful but still I went out at 10.15. At the bus stop the crowd was gradually growing, and the bus did not appear neither on the table, neither in real life. It was about 10.55 when an American gentleman decided to take a cab to the airport and I decided to go with him. During all this waiting I double, triple, quadruple checked the departure time on the ticket but it was undoubtedly 12.15. We reached Tegel at about 11.20. And it was when I entered the terminal when I realized my flight departs at 12.15 – from Schönefeld.
I have no idea how did it happen, and the cab driver told me it might take at least 40 minutes to go there – well, if that was at least, I let it go. And I sat in the terminal, laughing as mad, because Holy Ravioli this is impossible. Still I needed to get home. I looked up an Airberlin flight for the afternoon which was the cheapest option (still, it was of course ridiculously expensive). I bought it, spent a couple of hours in the airport, met Agnieszka (again) who was travelling from the same airport (according to her original plan though). After a couple of hours, it was about 2 PM (flight departing at 5) I walked to the terminal to see where it is (unlimited internet may be found only in one coffee place, and there are 4 terminals). I looked at my e-pass to doublecheck the gate. And I scowled, produced an insane amount of courses in my head and sat down, laughing hysterically.
I bought plane ticket for Airberlin for 5 PM, from Tegel airport. This was all correct. FOR THE NEXT DAY.
I was sure, but completely sure, that this has to be a dream. It cannot be happening for REAL.
It was for real.
Being it of course the cheapest fare, I couldn’t change it nor cancel it. The only way to get home on the same day (and I really needed to) was to buy third ticket (which was possible because my Father decided not to let his insane daughter join the flock of Berlin courtesans and send a magical owl with a purse laced to her claws).
This might well be the end of story, if only my ticket was valid. For some reason its status was stuck on Unconfirmed and it took two or three visits at the info desk and a phone call (THANK YOU dear Lady at AirBerlin desk, Yaniz or something like this was your name, you were simply wonderful).
After I finally passed security control (thank you German airports that you don’t make me take off my shoes as it saves a lot of time) and checked in, I was sipping watery coffee and eating something marked focaccia which was everything except focaccia but was edible nevertheless, for the first time in the day, I felt overwhelmed. I felt I just don’t want it to be happening, that I just want to be home and someone to hug me. I resisted the urge to write my friends I love them and if the plane crashes for instance, the keys are with Francesco and please take care of my cats. Instead, I finished the watery coffee and started to write the first part of this story.
You know, witches sometimes feel strange things are going to happen and before I went to Germany I had this feeling. Do I regret? Hell no, it was a great time after all.

I learned though that sometimes you are super cautious and things happen, even the mistakes you are the only responsible for.

This is a difficult discovery for someone who regards herself as independent, organized perfectionist. But maybe it needed to happen: most probably it did. It took me a good while to digest this whole story, maybe also because of that I didn’t finish this article earlier. Anyway this was also the lesson Cinderella and Prince Charmant learn in Michieletto’s staging and I have to tell some meaningful counterpoint happened afterwards in my life as well. But this is again another completely different story.