no.4 ensaio sobre a cegueïra


from the rehearsal notebooks

Ensaio sobre a cegueïra (Blinde Stadt)

Ein Multi-Media Opern-Modell, entwickelt im Rahmen der Werkstatt des 2. Internationalen Interaktionslabors Göttelborn für den besonderen Raum des Fördermaschinengebäudes IV (Schachtoper) auf dem ehemaligen Grubengelände. Das Team unter Leitung des Komponisten Paulo C. Chagas arbeitet an einer mehrkanaligen Soundinstallation: die Szenen und Klänge entstehen aus der Interaktion mit dem Raum und dem Thema der psychischen, emotionalen und politischen Blindheit (nach José Saramagos Roman). Das Modell ist zuerst 2004-05 als digitale Klang-Film Installation konzipiert, und der Prototyp wird 2005 auf Musik- und Kunstfestivals vorgestellt werden. Für 2005-06 ist dann eine Bühnenversion mit Orchester und Solisten vorgesehen.

Ensaio sobre a cegueira is a multimedia opera model developed in the framework of the 2nd International Interaktionslabors for the Schachtoper/Machine Turbine Room at the Coal Mine Göttelborn. A work in progress, this first version of several scenes from the new interactive opera installation is created with a unique multi-channel sound environment and combines live voice (soprano), processed voice, chorus, acting and dancing roles and film projection, and the performers participate in the live synthesis of the music and sound environment through interactive sensors. The theme explored in this opera (with a libretto adapted from José Saramago¹s novel “Blindness") involves different kinds of blindness: physical, emotional and political. The model is first conceived for 2004-05 as a digital sound-film installation; the prototype will be exhibited in 2005 at music und electronic art festivals. In 2005-06 the new work will be redesigned for a full stage version with orchestra and soloists.

Projektmitglieder/Participants: Paulo C. Chagas, Johannes Birringer, Carrie Henneman, Lynn Lukkas, Patrick Delges, Angeles Romero, Kristin Hapke, Natalie Kolaric, Laurie Stone, Christian/Studiometis)

Ensaio sobre a cegueïra (Blinde Stadt)

Notes: Interactive sound / blindness. How does the thematic content connect to the creative method of interactive sound synthesis? Proposals: Dramaturgical ground: “ensayo" (a mixture between philosophical meditation, story, anecdote, told by narrator; after each short section that drives the narrative, there is song/aria. The primary soloist is a soprano who plays the role of the “guide" (wife of the doctor). The libretto is rewritten from her POV.

(cf. Sciarrino, Infinito Nero. Maria Maddalena de Pazzi, 1600, trance evocations of visionary images of blood (of Jesus) that falls into Maria, milk that is poured out over her, wounds in which she gets lost as in a labyrinth. She hallucinates thes horror visions, but initially her voice is not clear, she stutters, screams, ejects these visions; historically, she did not write them down, but experiences them, as she is surrounded by 8 novices, who witness her convulsions, four of them repeat what they hear, the other four note them down). La follia del sangue.

Crescendo, decrescendo. Circle (silence).

How can the anecdotes (narrative segments), the experiences (of the wife¹s immediate relations to the doctor, the other women and men in the asylum, in the city) become inter-active as productive soundcreation. How can the telling become the inter-creation of certain sound characters (instruments) and image characters (film vignettes and animations) , and how can the creation of these sound characters slowly also involve other real characters (blind man, doctor, women with dark glasses, young boy, old man) who come to live, almost as if in a dream.

Can the experience of the blindness as catastrophe (disease) afflicting the social order and social body be told as a dream (nightmare) that has also ist surreal, comic, strange and familiar and unfamiliar sides. What is the asylum, and how can the “asylum" become a particular space within the space in which the centre of the dramatic tale unfolds.

How can we imagine the decrescendo, the going back out into the (blind) city, looking for avenues of survival, for housing, sanctuary, for food, for companionship, for re-connaissance, and how does this final third act resemble a kind of dissolution (of blindness back to seeing(perception, of chaos back to order, of disorder to further disorder). What do we show (action, film), what cannot be shown and is only intimated indirectly, what is only heard and thus imagined. How much of this work needs to be imagined and cannot be shown realistically or naturalistically. Is the realist theatrical form at all possible, or should this work be radically abstracted from the literal meaning, and deal with the sonic, with light, color (white), with animations only? With slow motion (when real time dissolves, when real space dematerializes and audition-hearing is heightened).

Agnosie: (psychische Blindheit: die Unfähigkeit, das zu erkennen, was man sieht).

Er kehrt zurück,

wie von einer Reise

und alle Formen und Farben der Welt warten auf ihn.

Er weiss nicht, was ihn erwartet.


Ensaio sobre a cegueira (Blinde Stadt) . . an opera installation First stage of development, Interaktionslabor Göttelborn, July 2004

Form, methodology, development

As an opera installation, the musical conception of "Blindness" is based on the idea of integrating the performance to the sound environment. Actually it was Paulo¹s intention to build a sound installation space in which the actors, dancers singers, instrumentalists, etc would produce all the musical events. This is a very challenging thing and we are doing it partially. For example in the love scene (scene 5, hotel room) Angeles uses the accelerometer (sensor) to produce sounds created by Patrick. The sound she creates in this scene directly builds and expands the narrative and emotional focus of this particular scene. This particular scene also includes solo voice (soprano), which was scored, and chorus/recitative (narrator 1 and 2) which was developed as Sprechstimme in rehearsal. We did not have enough time to try other possibilities.

Other sound layers: (Paulo¹s note): I will work in a new music layer using the synthesizers which I brought. It will be a sort of standing sound (basically chords) with small variations, which gives the harmonic framework of the piece. Christian will add another musical layer, acting as a DJ and using his own sounds. More details about the music:

Note: Dear team members, Johannes, thank you very much for the script. It is very good. I've made some minor changes: I corrected Carrie's text and worked a litte bit on the layout. The composition for Carrie is now finished. She still has to learn the music for the rape scene. It is a lot of work in only two days! Carry, you are doing a great job. I am sure we'll have a great performance. The music will be played live by Patrick. Patrick conceived the patch for sound amplification, sound spacialization, sound processing, sensors, feedback, etc (a lot of work) and Christian will play the electronic music as a DJ. Tomorrow we will work together. Paulo

Patrick, The feedback system, which I heard a little bit today, sounds very promising. I suggest you show us tomorrow at the beginning of the rehearsal. I think we can use it in the "Killing-Scene".

A new issue of the "Blindness" Opera is the "sound space" layer with the sounds by Christian and the interactive sound space by Patrick. We will have a Opera with a DJ. It sounds great! In terms of voice amplification we will use 4 wireless microphones, as requested. (Carrie, Laurie, Nathalie and Kristin). Because we only have three microphones I've suggested to give back a couple of normal mic and have an additional wireless mic. But it should not cause any additional cost. Tomorrow I would like to try the Harmonizer-Path on Kristin's voice. The idea isto have different voices generated by just one voice. Kristin's voice should sound like a man, but not necessary in a natural way. I am still composing the music for this "Killing-Scene" Paulo

Rehearsal schedule, determined at the end of the first week workshop sessions in the Atelier:

In our meeting on Sunday we planned following the rehearsal schedule for the opera-installation "Blindness". The rehearsals are in the Machineroom 4 (Schachtoper). Monday 12 2-5 pm Tuesday 13 2-5 pm Wednesday 14 2-8 pm Thursday 15 2-8 pm Friday 16 2-8 pm Saturday 17 2-6 pm

We will start tomorrow with the scenes 2 and 5 of Johannes' Libretto. Today Patrick set up the sound and started to plan the interaction design, which includes sound, video, light and feedback. The feedback should be activated by the performers (singer, actors, dancers, etc) during the action and generates music in real time. It can also be the source for other events like video and light. All the participants of the Interaktionslabor are welcome to the rehearsals.