Monday, May 14, 2012

УКСУС (UKSUS), an OBERIUper in 4 boxes

I've been commissioned to write a new opera for the Klagenfurter Ensemble, who premiered the German version of A Little Girl Dreams of Taking the Veil years ago. I love them. So far, all I know is that it will start on or about the 30th of November 2012 and will run for 10 performances through December, which means Xmas for me in Austria, where the little children are put into bags and the young girls are beaten with sticks by the teen boys in Krampus costume. The piece is based on the works and to a smaller extent the life of Daniil Kharms and his fellows in the Russian absurdist collective OBERIU (The Association for Real Art). The libretto and direction is by Felix Strasser & Yulia Izmaylova, music by me. A cast of 2 women and 2 men, a band of 5 instruments, something like a jazz ensemble. 

Many of Kharms's works are very short, for example:

A certain old woman fell out of a window because she was too curious. She fell and broke into pieces.
Another old woman leaned her head out the window and looked at the one that had broken into pieces, but because she was too curious, she too fell out of the window — fell and broke into pieces.
Then a third old woman fell out of the window, then a fourth, then a fifth.
When the sixth old woman fell out, I became fed up with watching them and went to Maltsevsky Market, where, they say, a certain blind man was presented with a knit shawl.

A number of these are included completely in the libretto and have the feeling of dark children's stories.  In fact, after he died in a psychiatric institution during the siege of Leningrad and his avant-garde works were suppressed, he was known quite well as a children's book writer. Children, like me, are in love with nonsense, even dark and brutal nonsense. 

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