Which is the title to the only image I will show today. As we come closer and I spend more time in the theatre, I don’t want to show yet all I am seeing; some photos will only appear after the 27th.
Nietzsche, yes. Contra Wagner. The overture to the first act, his visage looms over the stage, peering into the darkness of jardin, only the conductor and a pianist. A snake falls. I am one row below the gods, hanging above the glow of the rehearsal desks. Start again. Darkness. The curtain does not rise, but dissolves. More darkness. A glimmer. A forest. Where there is no light, blacker still yet, voices sing.
I have not seen enough – the first act only about half, the third not at all; the second, either drunk in the ropes or off-stage I know best but nonetheless fragmented – to feel I can remark with authority or certainty on what I am experiencing, but I shall say some things anyway. It feels uncertain and elusive. Amidst it, within, there is little to grasp that gives comfort, that assures one’s performance is effective or even has a point or reason. It is difficult to trust.
I imagine a black theatre filled with a thousand people, the uncanny spirit this gives which can be come by through no other means, seeing into this darkness, past Nietzsche, these voices of Gurnemanz, Amfortas, Kundry, coming from the pit of absent light, the storm of the orchestra, the music, Wagner, the forest and what happens therein, it could overwhelm utterly.
We had a run later yesterday with the same piano and baton, white bodies, wigs, the white of the space, the floor, the chasm facing towards the audience also a white haze, difficult for all the new things (the body paint dries the skin and causes the ropes to stick instead of slide, biting into the skin – something we will find a solution for, or just get used to, adapt, work around). It seems not so much goes on, but my camera in the care of one in the audience captured this all, and watching it last night and again today, the scene has something compelling, almost violent.
There is an intellectualism afoot in the mise en scene I think some people will hate, or simply not understand and so feel angry and frustrated. Well, they can always close their eyes and listen to the music and voices. This, I think, is where Roméo is playing out the drama and emotions; not in acting or staging and set. There is perhaps no need to make these additions to this that merely reiterate, to sing of a Zauberschloss and thereafter assemble an entire one across the volume of the stage. And in this space created by dispensing, addressing Wagner and his Parsifal …
Is Wagner’s Parsifal his secret, superior laugh at himself, his triumph at attaining the final, supreme freedom of the artist, his artistic transcendence? As I said, it would be nice to think so: because what would an intentionally serious Parsifal be like? Do we really need to see in him ‘the spawn of an insane hatred of knowledge, mind and sensuality’ (as someone once argued against me)? A curse on the senses and the mind in one breath of hate? An apostasy and return to sickly Christian and obscurantist ideals? And finally an actual self-denial, self-annulment on the part of an artist who had hitherto wanted the opposite with all the force of his will, namely for his art to be the highest intellectualization and sensualization? And not just his art: his life too.
Is this what Roméo plays with, Nietzsche’s On the Genealogy of Morality? With intellectualisation and sensualisation? I know when the blumenmädchen are singing it is physically affecting, I mean to say, god, it is like sex, and later with Andrew and Anna, and the return of the leitmotif from Act I’s Vorspiel, has such a melancholy and loneliness … or it could just be an accumulation of scraps taken from here and there, starting from Wikipedia, and I’m merely retracing all this here.
Even so, that is not necessarily a disparaging remark, after all, this is how I make work, following traces, and so there comes a substantial familiarity, the process is not superficial nor careless. And when this is repeated over years, it builds like layers of sediment, in which can be found like archaeology.
It is late again though, and tomorrow more whitening and ropes. Today we spent a quiet some hours in the back of Marlibran again working on details of the suspensions. Anna came to visit with her breathing coach, also Anna (we will all change our names to Anna and when Roméo says, “Anna” will all turn towards him, “Yes!?”), to work on her screams. While Gala hung, she was there howling, lying on her back, legs spread.