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Jocy de Oliveira  'Kseni - the stranger'

audiovisual music theatre for Sigune von Osten

European premiere Festspiele Ludwigshafen 2007

"Sigune von Osten presented the Medea-piece 'Kseni - The Stranger' by the Brazilian composer Jocy de Oliveira at the Corso-Filmtheater. After partial concertante performances in Dresden in 2002 and Berlin in 2005, it received its European premiere in Ludwigshafen.

Conzertante? Half-scenic? Scenic interpretation? One shouldn't ask these questions with regards to performances by Sigune von Osten. It is since 1996 that the specialist for contemporary music, who was born in Dresden, operates the international cultural centre ART POINT at the Trombacher Hof, a 600 years old cloistral manor near Bad Kreuznach. The experiments, which are situated in the country, of the singer who received her singing education in Hamburg and Karlsruhe, are not easy to position, they do not fit into pre-established categories and always take the most recent developments into consideration. Of course, the mythical sorceress and child murderer with her stunning departure in her fiery carriage is a real gift for feminists...

Jocy de Oliviera, who ? apart from the music ? is also responsible for concept, lyrics, video, audio and direction, knows how to transfer such a thing onto a scantily minimalist stage. She wrote ?Kseni? for Sigune von Osten's voice. You can hear that. A very tragic actress, she scratches magic gold from the ballad that makes you shiver, she unfolds an entire catalogue of singing, speaking, babbling, screaming, cackling, laryngeal acrobatics and archaic wailing...

Medea, the Stranger who came from afar, is not a little angel. She is (and she says so) the third world who, as a writing on the wall, is standing in front of a door that is still locked. She is the one who has to carry all the burdens of the world on her shoulders, wars, ecological devastation, hunger, exclusions. The woman (the human being) who is not allowed to be what she is. The not tolerated one who has to murder her children so that they won't have to suffer the same fate of humiliation and being brushed aside.

With finely twisted sound webs, an exotic flavor, a cello-solo of the warmest presence next to cold, merciless explosions interspersed with exotic percussions, that's how Oliveira's catchy deconstructed music narrates, in brief, whole novels of the soul. The music is exceedingly well-performed by the six brilliant members of the ART POINTensembles.

Die Reinpfalz 29.10.07

What happens, admittetly, as an act of revenge for the Greek writer of tragedies Euripides in 431 A.D., the Brazilian composer and director interpretes rather as an act of parental care. In her musical theatre "Kseni ? The Stranger", inspired by a ballad of mediaeval troubadours, the emigrant Medea kills her sons out of compassion in order to spare them the fate of humiliation and social exclusion in a foreign world. A myth transferred into the reality of our times, a long bygone track that stays behind like peeled skin, and yet present as a symbol for a gruesome causality that even in connection with such a monstrous deed cannot be exactly termed.

What was to be heard and seen by the excellent Sigune von Osten, to whom the part of the Medea was dedicated, and the ravishingly performing Art Point Ensemble at the Corso Film Theater, in the course of the Ludwigshafener Festspiele, was a permanent entanglement of the past, present and future. For one hour the performance ranged between silence, sound and light, gently embedded in a realm of the senses that seemingly tied in with the old oracle sayings, whose ?truths? have become, however, more direct and verifiable in modernity.

Because the destructions and imminent losses in this world that Medea evokingly sings and talks about, are touching moments we can directly sense. There is no need for reason to be able to decipher such prophecies. These are archaic messages, mostly accompanied by gently sounding instruments (clarinets, violoncello, tambura, percussion, complemented with Ursula Haupenthal's sculptural-instruments and Nicolai Schneider's boyish voice), often seemingly oriental sounds which only occasionally come together in a motivic-rhythmic structure, as if the composer did not want to completely dispense with textural concept and logic on her emigrating journey to the floating, the unnameable.

Sometimes, as they say, the comeback of myths become an imprudent relapse into the allegedly better story. A risk that has not been avoided altogether this evening. Instead, the evening indulges us with a finespun texture of numerous thoughts and associations, which prove that bright reason and dark magic can be very close at times.

Mannheimer Morgen 29.10.2007

In Greek mythology she epitomizes the monstrous act of revenge: Medea, who retaliates upon her unfaithful husband by killing not only her rival but also her own children. Since Euripides erected the first theatrical monument for her, many authors have concerned themselves with Medea.

In 2002 the Brazilian composer Jocy de Oliveira dealt with the Medea myth: 'Kseni - the Stranger' is the name of the five-part musical theater that could be seen as a concertante version at the Berlin Festspiele in 2005. A scenic interpretation of the play premiered last year (2006) in Rio de Janeiro.

The Brazilian composer Jocy de Oliveira interpreted the ancient medea myth her own way in 'Kseni - the Stranger': The castaway emigrant Medea turns into a kind of medium that warns us of xenophobia and fanaticism as much as of the addiction to profit maximizing and emotional coldness. She kills her own children less from the desire for revenge than as an act of exaggerated motherly love, in order to protect them from an alienated world.

The soprano Sigune von Osten is 'Kseni - the Stranger'. The piece was basically written to fit her vocal chords - a tour de force of approximately one hour, in which she has to flexibly alternate between high-pitched, even piercing sounds, tremoli, melodious bits and pieces and spoken text.

A striking, archaic atmosphere emerges - consistent with the music that is, at times, rhythmically arousing and then ruminantly filigree. Jocy de Oliveira who, apart from some of her work of chamber music, has attracted attention with her six operas so far, resorts to a mediaeval Medea-ballad of the troubadours.

'Kseni - the Stranger' is Jocy de Oliveira's statement to current worldly affairs - to call for more humanitarianism.

And then, the passionate pleas on stage have an expurgatory effect, to all intents and purposes along the lines of the ancient Greek catharsis. Thus, Jocy de Oliveira creates a versatile and meaningful musical theatre...

Deutschlandradio / Ursula Böhmer 'Kseni - the Stranger'29. Okt 2007

...the sophisticated score is full of peculiars. The solo part, which was tailored for Sigune von Osten, rotates between singing, speaking, whispering, screaming and sobbing. Nevertheless, the texture consists of a rather ruminant character, thoroughly conceived and meticulously assembled. The mediaeval Occitan ballad ?Medée fu? as well as quotations of Rossini's opera ?Othello? are organically integrated. Neither comes across as foreign matter...

Deutschlandradio / Ursula Böhmer ?Kseni ? the Stranger? 29. Okt 2007

Alle Fotos: Peter Kapteinat
© ARTPOINT Nov. 2007