The Mother of Black-Winged Dreams (1996)An Opera
Music: Hanna Kulenty
Libretto: Paul Goodman
Musical Director: Paul Weigold
Director: Claus Guth
Stage and Costumes: Christian Schmidt
Commission by the City of Munich
Co-production: Münchener Biennale, Hamburgische Staatsoper in collaboration with Bayerisches Staatsschauspiel/ MARSTALL
World premiere: 9 December 1996 at 8 p.m.
Further performances: 10 December 1996 at 8 p.m., 12 December 1996 at 9 p.m. and 13 December 1996 at 8 p.m.
Theater im Marstall
Premiere in Hamburg: 7 January 1997 at 8 p.m.
Further performances: 8, 10 and 11 January 1997 at 8 p.m.
Length: 90 minutes, no intermission
The prerequisites for an exciting collaboration with Hanna Kulenty and Paul Goodman were ideal: we had intensive and fundamental conversations, and only after we had exchanged ideas did Hanna Kulenty go off on her own and compose the work, without delay, without stopping. The result was surprising and unleashed a very suggestive maelstrom effect, which I had never experienced before.
The secret behind this phenomenon lies in the arcs of suspense that Hanna Kulenty draws so skillfully. She works with an intuitive, sleep-walking confidence and immerses herself in a world of sound with an almost manic intensity. Listening to her music, I always had to make a decision: turn off the cassette immediately or take a highly emotional journey. Starting point of the piece is the multiple personalities of the protagonist - medicine refers to this condition with the abbreviation MPS and says that in 90% of all cases the afflicted were sexually abused as young children. The victim can apparently deal with such an experience only by distributing emotions to several (internal) persons. The pain has to be distributed, and thus a type of "amnesia" exists between the so-called "alter-persons", i.e., a loss of memory. The personalities have no knowledge of the life histories of the other personalities, they don't remember the same things. Therefore it happens that people suffering from multiple personalities give names to the "distributed roles". […] A fatal cycle begins where whoever is "responsible" appears, depending on the external situation. […]
The theatre medium allows the artistic device of turning the schizoid thoughts of a person, described beforehand, into real living beings. In this manner, the single contrary conditions and emotional states of a person can be shown simultaneously, given that one succeeds in designating the singers and actors as being one person. The set designer Christian Schmidt and I try to approach the lead role Clara from the outside and simultaneously documentarily: the unmoving look out of the window, a realistic room. And so a growing friction between Clara's monstrous fantasies and the external banal situation is created, until reality and imagination become intermingled on stage during the course of the rest of the piece. […]Perhaps we will succeed - above all by means of the power of suggestion in Hanna Kulenty's music - in blurring for a short time the sensitive border between reality and imagination.
(Claus Guth, What is real, what is normal?)