“Obsessions”, the piece by Finnish performance company OBLIVIA and composer Yiran Zhao will premiere at Theater Bremen’s Kleines Haus on Saturday, February 19th, at 8 pm. “Obsessions” is a NOperas! Project within the scope of the NOperas! support initiative, itself an initiative of the Fonds Experimentelles Musiktheater (feXm), in shared sponsorship of the NRW Kultursekretariat and the Kunststiftung NRW.
OBLIVIA are well-known for their minimalist approach to the grand questions of human existence. Their performances join elements from dance, language, and performance into one idiosyncratic style that they use to transfer complex idea worlds onto the stage, with both a light hand and a subtle wit. In their new creation “Obsessions”, the second OBLIVIA production to take on experimental music theatre following VERDRÄNGEN, which they premiered at Stuttgart’s ECLAT Festival Neue Musik Stuttgart in 2020, OBLIVIA investigate the highlights of our obsession, of our febrile cravings – in private as well as in the political sphere, crying as well as whispering, during yesterday as well as today – through motion and gesture, singing and text fragments.
Together with five singers and performers from the Bremen Ensemble and with six musicians from the Bremen Philharmonic, the Finnish company playfully flits about between changing spaces and times. From the construction of the pyramids until the present time, they expose recurring obsessive patterns as the driving forces of human behaviour, referring to social pressures, political correctness, and body cult, among other things, in their texts and scenic moments.
In this first encounter between OBLIVIA’s decidedly minimalist performance aesthetics and the grand opera stage, overflowing costumes and codes from classical opera tradition meet the reduced movement vocabulary and the profound humour brought by the Finnish company, whose works guest throughout Europe.
Yiran Zhao, the young, multiple award-winning composer who has been collaborating with the company since 2019, provides the eclectic composition, while the combination with OBLIVIA’s own handling of song and voice brings about an exceptional and catchy sound field that goes beyond even their merging of a cappella songs and classical melody structure with atonal elements. In the process, they will repeatedly examine words or sentences for their musical qualities when they are sung in expansion, or spoken rhythmically. Between analogies with Monty Python sounds and operatic brilliance, between white noise and distorted and broken tones, the sound of “Obsession” meanders while remaining intricately intertwined with movements on stage.
“’Obsessions’ is an opera with contemporary orchestra, electronic music, and a mixture of voice-art in various forms,” summarises Yiran Zhao. “I was faced with the special challenge of working with sound material from different sources because part of the music that will be heard on stage was the result of collaborative working processes and improvisations by OBLIVIA.”
Following the Bremen performances, “Obsessions” will have its North Rhine-Westphalian premiere at the Wuppertal Opera on December 3rd, 2022, in a yet again newly conceived version with singers and orchestra musicians from the local ensemble.
The creation process for “Obsessions” also marks the first time that OBLIVIA’s two founding members, artistic director and performer Annika Tudeer and musician and performer Timo Fredriksson, encounter colleagues from municipal theatre ensembles: “It is both enriching as well as challenging having those two worlds meet now,” explains Annika Tudeer. “Our open, collaborative work approach, stemming from the independent performance scene, which is extremely important to OBLIVIA and which imbues our work with this polyphonic quality while also sometimes making the process difficult, too, encounters the conditions of the municipal theatre with its set rules concerning rehearsal times and procedure that can also enable so much. And, what is, of course, most important: Gaining eleven ensemble members that are so incredibly well-versed in one fell swoop, that is a real blessing that is really only possible within such a cooperation.”
Artistic Direction: Annika Tudeer
Musical Direction: Yu Sugimoto
Composition, Sound Design and Electronics: Yiran Zhao
Concept and Text: Oblivia
Costumes: Tua Helve
Lighting Design: Meri Ekola
Performance Dramaturgy: Alice Ferl, Anna-Maija Terävä
Lighting: Norman Plathe-Narr
Dramaturgy feXm: Roland Quitt
With: Karin Enzler (Theater Bremen), Timo Fredriksson (OBLIVIA), Timotheus Maas (Theater Bremen), Mariam Murgulia (Theater Bremen), Nerita Pokvytyte (Theater Bremen), Matthieu Svetchine (Theater Bremen), Annika Tudeer (OBLIVIA)
Flute: Hélène Freyburger
Oboe: Gregor Daul
Trombone: Anatoli Jagodin
Percussion: Rose Eickelberg
Violin: Reinhold Heise
Viola: Marie Daniels
(All musicians: Bremen Philharmonic)
An OBLIVIA production within the scope of the NOperas! support initiative, itself an initiative of the Fonds Experimentelles Musiktheater (feXm). In shared sponsorship of the NRW Kultursekretariat and the Kunststiftung NRW, in cooperation with the Wuppertal Opera and Theater Bremen
Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Helsinki City, Svenska kulturfonden, TINFO – Theatre Info Finland/ MOTI funded by The Finnish Cultural Foundation.
An experimental music theatre performance
By OBLIVIA and Yiran Zhao, in cooperation with Theater Bremen
(Duration 1,5 hours)
Tickets starting at 31,00€, reduced tickets at 11,90€ (pupils, students, apprentices) at theaterbremen.de or eventim.de
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