Sunday, June 30, 2013

Uksus in Bregenz and beyond

The Uksus opera has been doing a slow tour along the Marchia Orientalis, from the initial amphibious assault on the beaches of Klagenfurt last December to the inevitable scorched earth twixt there and Bregenz last week, where the musical armada arrived as the opener of the Theaterallianz festival. I, like the Deadheads of yore, found myself following along their path in my battered Volkswagen Van, strident with rainbows and peace symbols, the site of many a conquest, and the centerpiece of many a drug-induced comatic experience.

My German, seemingly worse than ever, allows me to experience every performance like a child - a child whose parents don't mind it hearing some really naughty words in their Deutsch variants, which I then, like a child, repeat throughout the day, sing-songing the same tunes again and again. And again, because of my poor German, I tend to see the forest piece-gestalt rather than the wordlike trees, and I discern that the piece has matured as it travels, form coalescing from chaos. As it matures, I've begun to see what it is really all about, a recognition one would have hoped one would have known before one wrote the music but one is sure - without doubt - that God or her lesser angels and possibly their helper elves guided one's pen to the truth from the start.  Except possibly the ending, which may need some work.

My surprise visit did get on the Austrian TV, and there was a maestro-ish press conference where I was treated like I knew what I was talking about, and where I may not have sounded like an idiot, but one can never quite judge such things for oneself.  The piece itself was a delight to experience again, the performers wonderful, the society superb, the swimming pools and attendants and alcoholic overtaxing of my already overtaxed kidneys and liver and other internal organs which, when lightly sautéed, give a pleasant mouth feel and a pleasant tang of urine or bile or other bodily humors, as befits their function, a joyous cacophony.

I do hear whisperings from the ravens that the next performances may be in Wels, or Linz, or somewhere else in northern Austria, so I should check the oil cooling and the bed springs for further journeys - and further conquests - in the woods and valleys of the great Austrian nation.

The English-language version of Uksus, which will premiere somewhere here in San Francisco next year in one of the premier houses, is progressing through the usual tediousness of fundraising (we call it "development") but also along the exciting paths of translation and reworking and chances to fix the problems such as the aforementioned ending.

P.S.: Having now moved several operas of mine between the German and English languages, I should someday write a treatise on the differences between the two and the difficulties of moving something already composed in one to the other: way too many syllables in German, the high points of sentences coming in wildly different places, word order different in general, and again the problem of way too many syllables.

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