Two new music theatre productions by the Berlin companies Novoflot and Nico and the Navigators.


That at least the history of sacred music in Germany would have been different had it not been for the three great "S "s - that, however, may pass for certain knowledge. Without the works of Johann Hermann Schein, Samuel Scheidt and Heinrich Schütz, the music of the great Johann Sebastian Bach would probably have sounded different; how exactly? We cannot say. But that Schütz left significant traces on Bach: undoubtedly. In the new production of Nico and the Navigators, the second Berlin music theatre company with an international reputation besides Novoflot,

the 350th anniversary of the death of the quasi-Monteverdi student Heinrich Schütz was commemorated - and even the title refers to two topoi relevant to Schütz's oeuvre: "Flesh and Spirit". The programme book contains the corresponding poem by Georg Christian Lehms right at the beginning, which can serve as a poetic-theological guideline for the evening: "Flesh and spirit do not go together; / If we condemn one part / The other gets heart and strength. / But because blood and flesh procure / That we marry with fear/ One must choose only the spirit."


Director Nicola Hümpel takes this poem as the occasion for a musical and dance-theatrical séance in the course of which the two seemingly incompatible "elements" are set in relation to each other without the direction clearly taking sides with one or the other.


Hümpel shows - with an extremely fine and loving eye for the unevenness, that is, for the weaknesses - people in the irresolvable dichotomy in which they find themselves (presumably throughout their lives): between erotic desire and the lust for knowledge, between the lust for the body and the lust for language. Oliver Proske has set her a cleverly variable stage for this in the Elisabethkirche in Berlin-Mitte, which is sometimes used as an open space, sometimes as a concrete playing surface, and on which the musicians also sit and play mainly sacred pieces by Schütz and his contemporaries, sometimes with a beguiling virtuosity, such as in the Rosary Sonata No. 10 "The Crucifixion" by Heinrich Ignaz Biber. What Elfa Rún Kristinsdóttir, who is also the evening's musical director, conjures up on her baroque violin is truly more than impressive. So are the interludes of the dancers (Florian Graul, Yui Kawaguchi and Martin Buczko) in their mixture of contortion and entanglement acrobatics, which also make dramaturgical-scenic sense. The flesh becomes entangled in itself, as it were, and the spirit, with the best will in the world, cannot save it. And neither can the good Lord. Only music is capable of this, especially when it is performed so tenderly and sensitively in this intimate space and sung so gracefully, apart and innocently. Is it a coincidence that the most beautiful piece of the evening - the lullaby "Oblivion soave" from "L'incoronazione di Poppea" - was written by Claudio Monteverdi?

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