Every NOperas! production confronts the participating opera houses with unusual challenges. That “Kitesh” would hardly stand back was clear from the beginning, but not that Corona would step in and take everything to the limit. After a strenuous hurdle race last Sunday, “Kitesh” had its premiere in Halle.
Two performances were played on this day of the premiere. Only seventy-five people were allowed as audiences in each case, which could not be heard in the thunderous final applause. Not only did “Hauen und Stechen” achieve something superhuman on the last stretch of the preparation, but also – with all its departments – the Halle Opera!
After the austerity programme of the digital space into which the theatre has retreated in recent months, after all the 19-inch formats in which it has been staged since then, “Kitesh” can be experienced as a circus-like spectacle that sweeps the audience away into the long forgotten world of exuberant total theatre and thus as an almost defiant act of insisting on a sphere of the sensual and immediate.
With the disappearance of the invisible city of Kitesh, the nmz (Neue Musikzeitung) sees at the same time “a happening celebrated about the disappearance of the opera. Not only of the concrete work from the beginning of the last century, but of the whole genre.” And it continues: “What [Hauen und Stechen] attempts to unleash in theatrical violence comes close to the work of art-the aesthetic of the future, which at the Halle Opera has controversially stimulated the discourse on the possibilities and limits of music theatre […]. But this […] series and its parts always remained in the small form appropriate to it.”
Now at least Richard Wagner, who coined the term “artwork of the future”, is not exactly known for his preference for small forms. Instead, he believed, it was a matter of “thinking the borders [sic] to the widest possible extent to be extended” (Wagner KdZ, Leipzig 1850, p.33). To do this, he said, one must “first examine the nature of the types of art which today, in their fragmentation, make up the general art system of the present day”, in order to then combine them into a “large, general work of art” [Wagner, p.36].
It can easily be argued that music theatre as an art form has always (and not only with Wagner) aimed at integrating all the individual arts existing at the time. It is therefore worth considering whether this evening in Halle was perhaps less about the “disappearance of the opera” than about a new revival of its innermost ideas.