The contract with the devil

Finally, the "staged concert" of the Berlin theatre collective Nico and the Navigators at the Radialsystem entitled "Empathy for the Devil" is more exciting and gripping. "I'm sorry," actor Martin Clausen yells with a pain-distorted expression, accusingly holding out a sheet of paper to the audience: "Contract" is written on it in large letters. Anyone familiar with Goethe's "Faust" knows: this is the contract with the devil! The prelude for a rousing evening is given: Nico and the Navigators give the Prince of Hell human form and let him appear sometimes as a bon vivant in high heels and glitter stole, sometimes as a melancholic suit wearer or as a sexy vamp in red satin. The ensemble sings and dances as if in a frenzy and in between reflects on good and evil. As if they were possessed by the devil, singers, dancers and actors outdo each other with demonic grimaces. No eye movement and no bead of sweat goes unnoticed, for the faces of the performers are doubled larger than life on a screen. Evil seduces by giving voyeuristic pleasure. 

The musical repertoire for this diabolical round dance ranges from Monteverdi to Tchaikovsky to Jeff Buckley. Unconventional arrangements create an effortless transition between the genres: Schumann is accompanied by electric guitar, Handel is subtly jazzed up and the Stones classic "Sympathy for the Devil" leads naturally to Henry Purcell. The singers are also convincing with stylistically confident versatility: above all, the hypnotic voice of tenor Ted Schmitz is just as at home in Benjamin Britten's sound universes as in rock songs by David Bowie. Meanwhile, mezzo-soprano Anna-Doris Capitelli sings about a devil who has grown tired of his role with the lament "Lasciatemi morire". One could feel sorry for the poor guy: after all, he has had to serve as a projection screen for our forbidden desires for millennia. Nico and the Navigators lead the audience through the abyss of the soul and make it clear: the devil is all of us. The premiere audience enjoys this parade of evil and applauds enthusiastically." 

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