Friday, August 13, 2010

Opera Goes Boldly

This appears to be an entirely legitimate announcement on the Web site of what may prove to be the mother of all ambitious opera projects:

The Klingon are known as passionate opera-lovers.

However very little is known about their highly evolved form of musical expression here on earth.

Floris Schönfeld has managed to lay his hands on some fragments of a masterpiece of the batlh jachlut or Honorable Battle opera.

Its title is ‘u’, which can be translated as ‘universe’ or ‘universal’. It will be the basis for the opera ‘u’, the first complete, authentic Klingon opera here on earth.

Klingon opera uses the principle of musical combat. Beauty in Klingon music comes from the impact of two opposing forces. To quote a well known Klingon proverb qa’ wIje ‘meH masuv or ‘We fight to enrich the spirit.’ The Klingon orchestra is made up of various indigenous Klingon instruments, some that have never been heard on earth before. The Terran Klingon Research Ensemble [sic] has been set up further develop a coherent Klingon musical practice amongst human musicians.

The libretto of ‘u’ is based on the epos of Kahless the unforgettable. Betrayed by his brother and witness to his father’s brutal slaying, Kahless is pitted against his bitter enemy the mighty tyrant Molor. To regain his honor he must travel into the underworld, create the first Bat’leth, be united with his true love the lady Lukara and fight many epic battles. Through this awe inspiring adventure Kahless redefines what it is to be truly Klingon. With the help of Marc Okrand, the worlds leading Klingon language expert, we have managed to piece together the stories in their original epic-poetic form for the first time.

According to the About us page, Schönfeld is "head researcher and artistic leader." He and his KTRE (Klingon Terran Research Ensemble) are based in Holland but have been invited to the artist-in-residence program of Robert Wilson's Watermill Center in New York. Performances have been scheduled at the Zeebelt Theater in The Hague from the 9th to the 12th of September; but of far greater interest is a special performance on September 18 on the location of the Celestial Vault, a land art piece by James Turrell in Kijkduin, to which only Klingons will be admitted!

My personal opinion is that, if it is good enough for Robert Wilson, it is good enough for me. (I must admit, however, that I doubt that very many Klingons would relate to Wilson's own work. Consider the entire absence of opposing forces in Einstein on the Beach.) I do not see myself going to Europe for the occasion; but this is a work that certain excels in its ambitions (which may differentiate it from the Royal Opera House premiere of Mark-Anthony Turnage's opera about Anna Nicole Smith, which may well distinguish itself solely through magnitude).

This being the end of the week, however, the question of the hour is whether or not this project is an act of chutzpah. My guess is that this is undoubtedly the case from the Klingon point of view. All infringements on the privacy of Klingon culture inflicted by the Star Trek series may have been barely tolerable; but I cannot imagine Klingons treating their creative arts with anything but sacrosanct reverence, with a special holy-of-holies place for opera. Thus, I am happy this week to honor Klingon judgment and grant the Chutzpah of the Week award to the entire KTRE.

1 comment:

Bill Wayne said...

Oh man, this is some funny stuff. You have totally got Opera's number. Just be careful if she comes after you. You might have to wield your bat'leth. Just kidding! Thanks for the great post. This will keep me giggling for hours. hey, you should come check out my stuff.