Anaesthesia

In their second joint production, Nico and the Navigators and Franui devote themselves to G. F. Handel’s monumental opera and oratorio works and create their own baroque fantasy between intoxicating opulence and Apollonian clarity with their pastiche.

Anaesthesia – Händel with care

A Pasticcio Opera

In celebration of the 250th anniversary of G. F. Handel’s death

 

The Berlin-based theatre ensemble NICO AND THE NAVIGATORS, well-known for its distinctive visual language, teams up with the celebrated Austrian musical ensemble FRANUI for a second collaboration, Anaesthesia, this time paying hommage to George Frideric Handel and his monumental output of operas and oratorios.  

 

Director Nicola Hümpel, stage designer Oliver Proske and composers Andreas Schett and Markus Kraler, together with their respective ensembles, hope to cast a new and original light on the baroque period, carrying the audience off into worlds that are at total odds with each other: Anaesthesia is both musical theatre and image theatre, oscillating between an intoxicating yet desensitising opulence and an apollonian serenity, between the dark and wild passions of that time and its rigid and formative regularity of style, between festive pomp and an almost ascetic solitude. The contrasts and transitions between these two worlds are what provides the material for a stage production combining both music and poetry.

 

It is from a 21st century perspective and in the guise of singing, dancing, corporeal poets that nine intrepid Navigators discover the world of the baroque for themselves. In so doing they explore the spirit of an age that has its parallels with the modern day. Just as a baroque-period fan conceals a different view of things in each of its folds, so Anaesthesia can be considered a kind of imaginative exercise that gives the spectator the freedom to come up with his or her own interpretation.

 

Images and moments both major and minor have been generated and subsequently choreographed into a narratively loose but artistically rigorous work – into a pastiche of images and sounds that casts fresh light on the baroque by subverting it through irony, drama or humour. 

 

The music of Anaesthesia makes use of a model that Handel himself used several times as London Opera Director: the Pasticcio Opera. Whenever the current season’s scheduled work wasn’t attracting sufficient audience numbers, Handel would order the scores of successful productions from other musical sources and incorporate the hits from them into his own most popular works, thereby creating a new musical outcome, which the librettist would later have to bring into harmony with his verses. 

 

Anaesthesia is a contemporary Pasticcio Opera in which arias, ensembles, choirs and instrumental music from Handel’s operas and oratorios are subjected to musical scrutiny and their composition elaborated upon. For this production director Nicola Hümpel has gone beyond the level of experimentation usual in musical practice by involving the singers themselves in the intensive programme of improvisation and choreography undergone by the actors and dancers. 

 

A production by NICO AND THE NAVIGATORS and the Handel Festival in Halle, with the Neues Theater Halle and the Bregenz Festival (Kunst aus der Zeit). In coproduction with the Grand Théâtre Luxembourg and the Festival Week Herrenhausen. Funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation, the City of Berlin and the Kunststiftung des Landes Sachsen-Anhalt. With the friendly support of Inteatro Polverigi. Funded by Kulturstiftung des Bundes.

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Press reviews

Albrecht Thiemann / Opernwelt

…The awakened curiosity, the intelligent mixing of dance, narrative, pantomime, drama, song, and adaptations, skewed to differing degrees, of thirty-two Handel hits is for all its craziness filled with an earnestness that realises Handel’s microcosm and the contradictory character of his time more accurately than any corny popular humour…

Albrecht Thiemann / Opernwelt

[...] The times may have changed greatly but many patterns of behaviour encountered in opera persist with us to this day; closeness and distance balance each other out. But anyone wanting to know more will have to take to the search himself. That is exactly what the Berlin-based performance troupe Nico and the Navigators, under director Nicola Hümpel and stage designer Oliver Proske, has done. “Anaesthesia”, a pasticcio in honour of the 250th anniversary of the composer’s death, is the heterogeneous, tentatively probing résumé of a journey into the world of the baroque. The fact that most of the actors as well as the musicians of the Franui ensemble (with whom the Navigators have already collaborated in a performance dedicated to Schubert) are dealing intensively with Handel for the first time is clearly noticeable in this ninety-minute musical theatre medley that will travel on from Halle to Hanover, Bregenz, Luxemburg and Berlin. The awakened curiosity, the intelligent mixing of dance (Yui Kawaguchi), narrative (Adrian Gillott), pantomime, drama, song, (Theresa Dlouhy, Clemens Koelbl, Terry Wey) and adaptations, skewed to differing degrees, of thirty-two Handel hits (for instance played on the dulcimer and accordion) is for all its craziness filled with an earnestness that realises Handel’s microcosm and the contradictory character of his time more accurately than any corny popular humour. Not everything works, some of it does appear to be overloaded, but at no point do the Navigators draw on Handel’s vocabulary of sounds, gestures and emotions simply as a model for trite amusement or crass updatings. [...]

Franz R. Stuke / opernnetz.de

…Nicola Hümpel and her actors make the fulminant exaltations of Handel’s time ravishingly clear in their musical selection and their interplay of exalted physicality – and are congenially musically accompanied by Fanui, the Tyrolean music ensemble, which surprises with striking sounds – without disavowing the Handel genius… A surprising variation of the otherwise so sublime Handel tribute…

Franz R. Stuke / opernnetz.de

A "pasticcio" is announced - a quodlibet of catchy Handel melodies from operas and oratorios. What can be experienced is an immensely stimulating scenario of opulent baroque atmosphere, astonishing "asceticism" and inimitably lustfully alienated music. Nicola Hümpel and her actors ("Nico and the Navigators") make the fulminant exaltations of Handel's time ravishingly clear in their musical selection and their interplay of exalted physicality - and are congenially musically accompanied by Fanui, the Tyrolean Music Ensemble, which surprises with striking sounds - without disavowing the Handel genius. About forty passages from Handel's works are presented - excellently performed by Theresa Dlouhy with a clear soprano, Terry Wey with a brilliant countertenor and Clemens Koelbl with a profound bass-baritone - and fascinatingly and physically transformed into scenic elements by the furious ensemble of actors. The group Fanui - a "Musicbanda" with a unique mixture of woodwinds and brass, string instruments and strings from the East Tyrolean Innervillgraten - ignites a firework of alienated Handel music, congenially baroque-celebrating, especially with deep brass folk music alienating. This is done with ravishing virtuosity, allowing Handel's spectacular successes to become emotionally clear in their indisputable fascination in joyful playing. Oliver Proske creates with clear contouring elements a communicative stage space, which offers room for the intensive action - and positions the Fanui strikingly. In the "new theater Halle" - Peter Sodann's "monument" of Halle's theater life as a cultural center of the city - a highly motivated audience gathers, is able to intensively engage with the presentation, singing and music as an "alternative" Handel performance - and gives enthusiastic applause! A surprising variation of the otherwise so sublime Handel tribute.

Andreas Hillger / Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

…This “baroque narcosis”, presented by Nico and the Navigators together with the musical ensemble Franui at the opening of the Handel festival in Halle, is an extraordinary dance in a baroque corset… And so midnight on the festival’s first day brought with it unanimous and jubilant applause for the most daring performance to have featured in Halle’s Handel festival in recent years…

Andreas Hillger / Mitteldeutsche Zeitung

HALLE/MZ. An inscription that heralds happy days stretches across its stomach: "Et in Arcadia ego" are the words on the body of the statue having its feet polished devotedly by an exotic beauty. Arcadia, then, is the name of that lost paradise – the home of shepherds and nymphs that lies somewhere in the middle of nowhere and is only to be reached via this "Anaesthesia". An extra wide array of sounds This “baroque narcosis”, presented by Nico and the Navigators together with the musical ensemble Franui at the opening of the Handel festival in Halle, is an extraordinary dance in a baroque corset. Composers Markus Kraler and Andreas Schett have borrowed melodies from operas such as "Admeto" und "Amadigi", "Rodelinda" und "Rinaldo" as well as from oratorios such as "Belshazzar" und "Israel in Egypt" and adapted them to suit their unique line-up: the saxophone slurs the notes about, the double bass slaps its way lazily through the continuo, the dulcimer delivers its dulcet tones. But on top of everything there is the embracing and struggling of violins and trumpets, cornet and clarinet, tuba and accordion – an extra wide array of sounds that is to place Handel within jazz and then bring him back again to the usual marriages and funerals. Sure enough it is pure baroque that is sung – if under hindered conditions. The fingers of others proliferate like brows above the eyes of soprano Theresa Dhouly as she sings the praises of the "Bel Piacere", baritone Clemens Koelbl hangs upside down at the stage entrance or carries a Harpy around on his shoulders. Terry Wey’s wonderfully melting countertenor voice amazes as would a paranormal phenomenon when he yearningly sings "Piangerò" – a captivatingly tender moment in which the act of creation arises from the music. This is the real theme of the production with which Nicola Hümpel and her stage designer Oliver Proske have bestowed a real exportable hit on Halle’s Neue Theater: the majestic, animal power of sound, with the power to crown kings and transform shy couples into frenzied beasts, to establish identities and rob people of their senses. From the changing tableaux vivants in which the ensemble initially assembles itself the pasticcio unfolds as a play of many parts. It evokes the decadent boredom of the rich and lonely woman and shows how the subjects themselves construct their ruler, real feeling disrupts calculated emotion and the singing is enough to literally give you goose pimples. Body languages It is an ensemble that is equally polyglot in a corporeal sense that has entered into this coproduction with the Bregenz and Herrenhausen festivals as well as with the Grand Théatre Luxembourg. Here we have the steely elegance of the Japanese Yui Kawaguchi, the lightning-quick precision of Alberto Spagone and the shy nonchalence of fellow Italian Filippo Andreatta. And while the Belgian Sylvie Merck is making her own special contribution to hysterical performance and Patrick Schott is moving about the stage as a bone of contention incarnate and as a smiling angel of death, Adrian Gillott blends into the pastel-coloured company as a somnambulant master of ceremonies. Done up in a cap reminiscent of Handel’s and employing the blasé tone of voice of a real dandy, he tells of the parallels between "Powder" and "Power" - and of the precious "Tulips", which could also be misunderstood as "Two Lips". Although it may well be that not every single member of the premiere’s audience understood these enigmatic recitatives, the audience had clearly grasped the deeper sense. And so midnight on the festival’s first day brought with it unanimous and jubilant applause for the most daring performance to have featured in Halle’s Handel festival in recent years. "Anaesthesia" sleepwalks its way towards the spirit of baroque music, on a quest to find its lasting quintessence. The props, however, bring to mind the words of Emily Dickinson: "Hope is the thing with feathers." The last performance takes place on Saturday at 7.30pm at the Neue Theater.

Annett Jaensch / Tanzpresse

…they mark out the two poles of baroque life: on the one hand the swelling lust for life, on the other hand the knowledge that death and transience lurk in every idyll. So the piece is not called “Anaesthesia” for nothing, Nico and the Navigators construct an intoxicating intermediate zone for their lustful trip into this era…

Annett Jaensch / Tanzpresse

"Et in Arcadia ego" - so it is emblazoned on the chest of Patric Schott, who is carried onto the stage frozen into a statue. The Grim Reaper does the honors, because the Latin motto translated - "I, too, exist in Arcadia" - defines the two poles of baroque life: on the one hand, a swelling lust for life, and on the other, the knowledge that death and transience also lurk in every idyll. So the piece is not called "Anaesthesia" for nothing, Nico and the Navigators construct an intoxicating in-between zone for their lustful trip into this era. There is no lack of typical accessories: harem pants, puffed sleeves, feathers and shoes, just as Louis XIV would have liked to wear them, make the rustic dances, courtly rituals and tableaux vivants in the manner of paintings true to style. All this might run the risk of seeming kitschy were it not for Adrian Gillot's part. As narrator, he makes the spectacle permeable for contemporary eyes and ears with his ironic comments. The wonderfully versatile Yui Kawaguchi also stands out as a dancer when she flashes modern movement vocabulary. Finally, Handel's music makes the artistic bubble perfect: the eleven musicians of Franui and the three singers celebrate Handel's cosmos, but also alienate it with instruments such as accordion and saxophone. In the end, they die collectively, with a pinch of powder from the little bag of the Grim Reaper. This is so terribly beautiful that one simply can't blame the piece for its imagery and little mannerisms.

Stefan Rimek / Neue Musikzeitung

…One experienced a genre-crossing, tragicomic, intercultural and unconventional musical theater evening, which will remain very positively in the memory…

Stefan Rimek / Neue Musikzeitung

The Bregenz Festival successfully ignores the usual pigeonholes with "Art from Time". [...] A typically innovative production of the "KAZ" series could be experienced on August 12 and 13. Because when the Berlin music theater and dance theater ensemble "Nico and the Navigators" meets the Austrian music banda "Franui", something fascinatingly extraordinary always emerges, oscillating somewhere in the orbital space between music theater, dance theater and concert and thus really not fitting into any pigeonhole. This already became impressively clear in the production "Wo du nicht bist", with which the two ensembles made a guest appearance at the Bregenz Festival in 2006 as part of the "KAZ" program. "Anaesthesia" is now the name of the latest throw of this fruitful collaboration. The production had its world premiere in June 2009 at the Handel Festival in Halle and could now be experienced on the workshop stage of the Bregenz Festival Theater. From the very beginning, it was clear that the collaboration between conceptionist, director and choreographer Nicola Hümpel and musical directors and arrangers Markus Kraler and Andreas Schett had once again produced a work of the highest artistic caliber, inspired by creativity and artistic innovation, but never in danger of falling into clumsy avant-garde clichés. In the Handel Year, Hümpel, Kraler and Schett created with this production a pastiche opera that features 32 excerpts from 24 different stage works by George Frideric Handel and thus presents itself as a chain of musical highlights by the famous baroque master who died in 1759. Incidentally, Handel himself was fond of using this admittedly somewhat populist technique as an opera entrepreneur in London. But of course the Musicbanda "Franui" puts its own stamp on the arias, duets, tercets, recitatives, choral numbers and instrumental pieces, and so many a baroque basso continuo mutates through a groovy pizzicato of the double bass into a swinging-jazzy walking line, or so many an aria advances through elements of salon music, jazz, folk music or klezmer into a world-musical gem. One also experiences tonal extensions with unusual instrumentations such as dulcimer in the basso continuo or the inclusion of guitar, accordion or alto saxophone. Nicola Hümpel created a movement concept for the stage actors that has a fascinating basic structure and is not stingy with refined and deliciously satirical-humorous details. A presenter from the baroque era moderates in dandy style the interpersonal scenes, which are sometimes overdrawn to the point of grotesqueness. The choreography is perfected down to the fingertips, and in their suite-like composition they create comprehensible arcs of tension despite the lack of a linear plot. In the process, details such as the naked torso of the singing baritone Clemens Koelbl hanging upside down from the ceiling or the acting and dancing skills of countertenor Terry Wey and soprano Theresa Dlouhy never cease to amaze. But great praise is due to all stage actors for the expressive execution - and in part also independent application - of their parts and again to Nicola Hümpel, who also created the costumes oscillating between Greek antiquity, baroque and modernity. The audience experienced a cross-genre, tragicomic, intercultural and unconventional evening of musical theater that will remain very positively in the memory.

Ingrid Grohe / Allgäuer Zeitung

…With their slightly ironic homage to Handel, the consistently outstanding dance, vocal and instrumental artists traced the spirit of the Baroque…Just as Musicbanda Franui presents Handel’s works in dazzling metamorphoses in “Anaesthesia,” the singers and dancers of Nico and the Navigators perform Baroque scenes in metamorphoses…. With their brilliant performance “Anaesthesia” they raised Handel’s hits to a surprising but quite comprehensible new level and were rewarded with thunderous final applause….

Ingrid Grohe / Allgäuer Zeitung

Bregenz Festival - The spirit of the Baroque in shrill images and metamorphoses of Handel's music - Thunderous applause for Franui and Nico and the Navigators. Handel's greatest hit was not heard. His "Hallelujah" was presented to the audience only painted in notes on a poster. Otherwise, however, the music banda Franui made ample use of George Frideric Handel's operas and oratorios for the program "Anaesthesia", which they performed together with the Berlin ensemble "Nico and the Navigators" on the two sold-out evenings of Wednesday and Thursday in front of a total of almost 600 spectators on the workshop stage of the Bregenz Festival Hall. With their slightly ironic homage to Handel, the consistently outstanding dance, vocal and instrumental artists traced the spirit of the Baroque. One cannot say that Franui would not take George Frideric Handel seriously. On the contrary: the Tyrolean musicians search for and discover the best the master has to offer, dissect and dust it off, and then assemble it into a ravishing pastiche. Quite irreverent In their tinkering, of course, they proceed rather irreverently. A soprano saxophone takes over the first violin, an accordion sneaks into a sonata, syncopations bounce through chamber music passages, and blue notes get involved every now and then. Sometimes this rousing flow of sound leads to subtle and beguiling compositions of new music. Amazingly, all of this fits the 17th-century stories Franui tells in the language of Handel. Just as Musicbanda Franui presents Handel's works in dazzling metamorphoses in "Anaesthesia," the singers and dancers of Nico and the Navigators perform Baroque scenes in metamorphoses. The colorful picture arch reminds a bit of Midsummer Night's Dream, a bit of "Shakespeare in love". Debauched festivities at royal courts and wild goings-on in dusty streets in front of baroque castles increase to intoxication. Animalism, majesty, a coronation, decadence, creation and death are celebrated. Crazy, orgiastic or even lyrical are the dances - amazing especially Yui Kawaguchi, who elegantly and snake-like forms the most dazzling creatures and shapes with her body. Dreamy, poetic are the arias of the warmly colored countertenor Terry Wey, the soprano Theresa Dlouhy with her naturally radiant voice, and the baritone Clemens Koebl, who accomplishes the amazing feat of singing a long solo while hanging upside down from the ceiling. Thunderous final applause The question of how far director Nicola Hümpel and the musical directors of Anaesthesia Markus Kraler and Andreas Schett are right with their unusual characterization of George Frideric Handel and his time - under historical aspects - does not arise. With their brilliant performance "Anaesthesia" they have raised Handel's hits to a surprising but quite comprehensible new level and were rewarded with thunderous final applause.

Karin Vera Schmidt / Hanoversche Allgemeine Zeitung

…It approaches Handel and his time with respect yet at the same time views him from the perspective of the present day, with a wondering devotion and a cheeky sense of distance…

Karin Vera Schmidt / Hanoversche Allgemeine Zeitung

Magical creatures, story-tellers and furry animal fetishists – with its production “Anaesthesia” the ensemble of Nico and the Navigators and Franui has developed a round dance full of strange encounters in the Orangerie at the Herrenhausen festival. Nicola Hümpel’s Berlin-based theatre ensemble has put together a pasticcio opera on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of Georg Friedrich Handel’s death. Three singers, six poets of dance and movement as well as the Austrian musicians of Franui whisk you away for almost two hours into a baroque picture book, a gallery of strange faces and characters that could have come straight out of a midsummer night’s dream. Anything is possible in this mating dance, since the creatures operating within it have no defined form. Cat, crow, cannibal – as volatile as tigers, the actors indulge in their desires, whether that be a dog-like race to copulate or playful finger theatre. Yui Kawaguchi eclipses all others with her fascinating transformation arias. All of which has something to do with Georg Friedrich Handel, since he himself used pasticcio extensively during his time as opera impresario in London. Whenever an audience tired of a show, he would replace a few sequences with other pieces from his enormous repertoire. This cheerful capriciousness also reigns in Anaesthesia. The eleven-man Franui ensemble accompanies the ecstatic goings-on on stage with a pot-pourri of twenty-four of Handel’s best-known works for the stage. Arias, choruses and instrumental pieces remain at times close to the Handel standard and at others move far away from it – not for the least because the ensemble uses the saxophone and accordion, hardly typical instruments for baroque music. Such a complete piece of art arises from the foundations of baroque forms thanks to careful staging. It approaches Handel and his time with respect yet at the same time views him from the perspective of the present day, with a wondering devotion and a cheeky sense of distance.

Katja Grawinkel-Claassen / TAZ

…language does not go a long way in wild Arcadia, where everything is feeling, movement, sound. Only poetry can be of help, and maybe irony too. Nico and the Navigators prove themselves to be masters of both over the course of the evening. To say nothing of the feats of singing and dancing of both troupes…

Katja Grawinkel-Claassen / TAZ

ON LITTLE CLOUDS OF POWDER Here’s to losing control: Nico and the Navigators ignite the Radialsystem with their intoxicating "Anaesthesia", based on the works of G. F. Handel "Why does a rabbit running across a country road at night suddenly freeze in the middle of the road and get itself run over?" asks our guide through this “Anaesthesia”. He himself gives us an immediate answer: "It is spellbound by the beauty of the headlights that are racing towards it and about to tear it to pieces." With "Anaesthesia" director Nicola Hümpel and her crew, alias Nico and the Navigators, tread a line that passes between "Memento mori" and a state of narcosis: a menacing yet tantalising spiral out of control that is at once full of joy and sorrow. Just as the anaesthetised patient casts a final look at the neon lamp hanging over him before falling into wonderful worlds and bottomless depths in which body and mind become one, so the audience is to be brought fully out of its senses. "Et in Arcadia Ego" is written across the torso of one dancer, who was previously even carried around like a statue but is now to be seen bounding across the stage of the Radialsystem. "Anaesthesia" is a baroque dance on the edge of a precipice that brings comic potential to music taken from over twenty different Handel operas. This operatic performance – with the subheading "Handel with care" - premiered in June at the Handel festival in Halle on the occasion of the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel. In 17th century London, if the opera house programme was less than well received, the baroque opera director would obtain the scores of successful productions from other opera houses in order that the new set pieces should give a boost to the director’s own less popular works. And so the pasticcio opera came about. Nico and the Navigators, together with the thirteen-man Austrian musical troupe Franui, use the form to bring together fragments of Handel’s work in a production that will give an idea of what baroque is to opera novices without ever shying away from those preconceived ideas we use to compose a picture of this historical and artistic period. Men in sheep’s clothing We see men in sheepskins alongside the most formidable frills, out of which hands poke and look about, we see and hear energetic dance and song solos performed in tandem and duets for three. Lovers, rivals and acrobats sway in and out of line and into round dances. There is a constant blowing into cupped hands to produce little clouds of powder that soar into the air then float down to the ground particle by particle. At times everyone moves as if in slow motion, coming together to form poses like tableaux in gold frames. Sumptuous group images of ladies and boys, man and animal emerge and disintegrate. Then an explosion of movement and voices. Youths dangle from the ceiling, feathers are plucked from every nook of the stage. The number of performers on stage and the number of intertwined limbs never seem to logically correspond... It would be easy to drift off and get lost in this baroque cathedral of sounds and images, were it not for Adrian Gillott’s sarcastic and clownish commentary: "So that is what baroque looks like(?)" The plush battlefield of associations, lying somewhere between absolutism and bewigged splendour, makes one crave yet more kitsch and more knock-out punches, until in the midst of this delirium the programmed reawakening is effected. Gillott, the only speaker, leads us through Nico’s multi-dimensional jungle of images but is also liable to freeze from time to time, needing to be “freed” by his buddies on stage. Because language does not go a long way in wild Arcadia, where everything is feeling, movement, sound. Only poetry can be of help, and maybe irony too. Nico and the Navigators prove themselves to be masters of both over the course of the evening. To say nothing of the feats of singing and dancing of both troupes.

Liechtensteiner Volksblatt

…A musical river cruise with a lot of feeling and expression…

Liechtensteiner Volksblatt

BREGENZ - To commemorate the composer George Frideric Handel, the Bregenz Festival performed the music theater "Anaesthesia" with the help of Nico and the Navigators and Franui. A piece based on improvisation, where not every movement is scripted. Last Wednesday, the workshop stage of the Bregenz Festival was transformed into a dreamscape in which the music played exactly the same role as the play itself. Director Nicola Hümpel united Handel's classical music with free acting, creating a common ground for actors and musicians. A musical river journey with a lot of feeling and expression. Middle Ages of the 21st century The stage simply covered with curtain in front of the ensemble and two aisles to the audience room prepared enough space for the eight characters. Each belonging to a different cultural background, grotesque and equally comic texts in German, English, Italian, Japanese and French are jumbled, enchanting and confusing the audience at the same moment. A very agile Japanese woman dances through the picture, while an inconspicuous blond youth sings the most beautiful arias. The story, which is not supposed to be a story at all, is narrated by a casual gentleman with a beautiful British accent and at certain moments does not leave a dry eye. The costumes, which give the actors and musicians a unique expression, leave room for dreams and longing. The music uses the technique of pastiche - a model that Handel himself made use of several times as a London opera entrepreneur: Hits from successful pieces - operas and oratorios - are concocted into a new piece. How much of the past is still reality? The piece raises many questions, including how much of the past is still reality? Thanks to the unconventional way of performing the play, kitsch has no place and leaves enough room to let the audience decide for themselves.

Kleine Zeitung

…On Wednesday evening, the production celebrated an acclaimed Austrian premiere as part of the festival series “Kunst aus der Zeit” (KAZ) on the workshop stage of the Bregenz Festspielhaus… atmospheric baroque imagery and impressively poetic physical theater…

Kleine Zeitung

The Berlin theater group "Nico and the Navigators" and the Tyrolean ensemble "Franui" presented "Anaesthesia" as an Austrian premiere. Baroque music, modern dance and drama have been combined by the Berlin theater group "Nico and the Navigators" and the Tyrolean ensemble "Franui" to create "Anaesthesia", which they call a pastiche opera. On Wednesday evening, the production celebrated an acclaimed Austrian premiere on the Werkstattbühne of the Bregenz Festspielhaus as part of the festival series "Kunst aus der Zeit" (KAZ). The focus of "Anaesthesia" is the music of George Frideric Handel. Andreas Schett and Markus Kraler from the ensemble "Franui" have woven musical quotations from 24 of Handel's best-known works into an arrangement, which is given additional interesting timbres by the idiosyncratic instrumentation with accordion, dulcimer and saxophone. Nicola Hümpel (direction) and Oliver Proske (stage design) rely on atmospheric baroque imagery. The interplay between the dark and wild passions of the baroque and the strict stylistic laws of the art of this time are impressively conveyed by the poetic physical theater of the ensemble "Nico and the Navigators", especially the dancer Yui Kawaguchi impresses with her acrobatics. The performance of the three vocalists is also impressive: Therese Dlouhy (soprano), Terry Wey (countertenor) and Clemens Koelbl (baritone). The production, which had its world premiere at this year's Handel Festival in Halle, is a co-production between Neues Theater Halle, Bregenz Festival, Festwochen Herrenhausen and Grand Théatre Luxembourg and will be shown in Berlin and Luxembourg in November.

Ursula Strohal / Tiroler Tageszeitung

…A baroque personage tests in loose scenes without external effort highly aesthetic and ravishingly sensual attitude towards life, art, poetry, brutality and the amazement of an epoch…

Ursula Strohal / Tiroler Tageszeitung

The Bregenz Festival presents the sensual, enchanting Handel pastiche "Anaesthesia" by Nico and the Navigators & Franui. Bregenz - "Power is like powder, when the wind chances," muses the dandy, and "Anaesthesia" comes across as feather-lightly and subtle, as a narcotic of movement, images, sound, light, philosophy, quotations and irony. Cult director Nicola Hümpel and her music-, dance- and actor-tested Navigators roam Arcadia in search of traces of what the typhoon of history has left for us: "Left for a while, soon will be back." The scene traces the Baroque attitude to life in a historically informed way, while Franui makes use of Handel's music - 32 pieces from 24 works. The arias, sung delicately and devotedly by Theresa Dlouhy, Innsbruck's Clemens Kölbl and countertenor Terry Wey, like other numbers, remain largely untouched; others are broken up. Eventful, how the saxophone mixes into the melismas, dulcimer and accordion open a new sound world, the tenderness of the tuba, the quality of the violins. Finger play over soprano pearls, disturbed affects, the discovery of the material and the intensity of body language, raging forces, the ceremony of melancholy and the singing Kölbl, hanging upside down from the stage portal: a baroque personage tests in loose scenes without external effort highly aesthetic and ravishingly sensual awareness of life, art, poetry, brutality and the amazement of an epoch.

Katharina von Glasenapp / Schwäbische Zeitung

…In the powerful music and flood of images of a good 90 minutes, this Anaesthesia has a narcotic effect….

Katharina von Glasenapp / Schwäbische Zeitung

Bregenz - "I too in Arcadia" has been painted on the belly of one of the dancers, who is being dragged around like a Greek statue. With the music of the jubilarian Georg Friedrich Händel, the musicians of Franui, the singers and the total work of art of "Nico and the Navigators", the audience also finds itself in a magic realm of baroque fantasies. With their approach to Schubert, the Austrian musicians around Andreas Schett and the Berlin troupe around Nicola Hümpel had already thrilled the audience three years ago, and now Anaesthesia is developing an extraordinary pull at the Bregenz Festival in the interplay of dance, language, acting, stage design, costumes, lighting and, of course, music. For the 250th anniversary of Handel's death, the musicians have done what was common practice in his time: from existing arias, duets, choruses and instrumental movements, a new opera has been carpentered, as it were, to which everyone in the audience can presumably think up their own plot. One finds oneself in a world of nymphs and shepherds and follows a wondrous round dance in which, of course, it is about love and desire. In the enchanted forest of feelings Fluffy sheepskins, luxuriant or simple dresses, the poetic expressive dance of Yui Kawaguchi, the playful interaction of dancers and singers or the cultivated purring English of Adrian Gillott, who walks across the stage of Oliver Proske like an Indian prince, conjure atmosphere into the dark workshop stage. Theresa Dlouhy with her clear soprano voice and baritone Clemens Koelbl, who knows how to sing upside down, are just as involved in the actions as the young countertenor Terry Wey with his immensely soft alto voice and sparkling coloratura. This wondrous hustle and bustle is carried by the highly musical arrangements of the group Franui: saxophone and wind clarinet mix with the voices, strings and brass meet, harp, guitar, dulcimer, double bass and accordion play the basso continuo, musicians unite in the choir. All this sounds natural, swinging or tender, opens the ears for Handel's melodies. Andreas Schett and Markus Kraler have not so much chosen the well-known hits, but rather drawn from the abundance of other gems. In the powerful music and flood of images of a good 90 minutes, this Anaesthesia has a narcotizingly beguiling effect and is unfortunately already over with two performances.

Christa Dietrich / Vorarlberger Nachrichten

…Whatever method director Nicola Hümpel uses in the ensemble work, her fellow cast members succeed in extraordinarily filigree scenes. The great parade, the affectionate finger theater, perfidious malice and the eternal longing for Arcadia … The dancers, especially Yui Kawaguchi, and the singers do their part to keep the fantasy web “Anaesthesia” alive on the great stage ramp by Oliver Proske…

Christa Dietrich / Vorarlberger Nachrichten

Cuddly rock was yesterday, cuddly baroque is today, because it has spikes. Bregenz (VN) - Baroque greets pop, that's been around for a long time. Handel with tuba, hammered dulcimer and accordion, that is perhaps also not absolutely new, consistently pulled through the combination however of the Austrian Musicbanda Franui. Once again, the - mainly - East Tyrolean performers work with the German ensemble Nico and The Navigators. After a Schubert evening that thrilled the Bregenz Festival audience, they delivered a pastiche opera for the 250th anniversary of the death of George Frideric Handel. First performed in Halle, "Anaesthesia" had its premiere last night on the Bregenz workshop stage. Somehow the sequence of scenes from 20 stage works by the baroque master reminds one of those "The whole Shakespeare" evenings with which, a few years ago, pretty much all German-language theaters succeeded in attracting even the classical music abstainers. Whereas there, the most banal jokes possible were filtered out of the tragedies and comedies, here the focus is on the real worlds of emotion that Handel unleashes. Loving or perfidious Whatever method director Nicola Hümpel uses in her ensemble work, her colleagues succeed in creating extraordinarily filigree scenes. The great parade, the affectionate finger theater, perfidious malice and the eternal longing for Arcadia - once the shepherd's play is set in motion, one stops counting the numbers, doesn't even think about the (other) content of the works "Theodora", "Agrippina", "Rinaldo", "Saul", etc. The dancers, especially Yui Kawaguchi, and the singers do their part to keep the fantasy web "Anaesthesia" alive on the great stage ramp by Oliver Proske. The musicians provide tension anyway. The repetition effect, which causes limping relatively quickly in the original, only sets in towards the end, at which one has long been sure, however, that this cuddly baroque is so beautiful because it has spines.

Christian Seibt / Neue Presse Hannover

…At the Herrenhausen festival Nico and the Navigators offered up a sensual operatic experience in honour of the 250th anniversary of Georg Friedrich Handel’s death. It takes as its theme the spiritual and emotional nature of the baroque era, which is itself revived in many images, often with great wit… Enthusiastic applause…

Christian Seibt / Neue Presse Hannover

HANOVER. Handel would have loved it: the singers and actors prowl around the stage with relish, they drift about quite lost in themselves and focused solely upon themselves. “Anaesthesia”, a name that takes some getting used to, is a music and drama fantasy performed by the Berlin-based theatre ensemble Nico and the Navigators and the Austrian musical ensemble Franui. At the Herrenhausen festival they offered up a sensual operatic experience in honour of the 250th anniversary of Georg Friedrich Handel’s death. It takes as its theme the spiritual and emotional nature of the baroque era, which is itself revived in many images, often with great wit. This pasticcio opera uses the baroque form of the medley, with twenty-four of Handel’s pieces being fused with the Franui orchestra’s idiosyncratic compositions and freshly stirred up by means of the dulcimer, saxophone and tuba. Dancer Yui Kawaguchi moved seductively, beguiling singing from soprano Theresa Dlouhy and countertenor Terry Wey. Enthusiastic applause.

Göttinger Tageblatt

…the real discovery of the festival is the Berlin-based ensemble “Nico and the Navigators”… a poetic, highly aesthetic physical theatre with a decidedly intelligent musical arrangement courtesy of the Austrian musical ensemble “Franui”…

Göttinger Tageblatt

But the real discovery of the festival is the Berlin-based ensemble “Nico and the Navigators”. It calls this Handel-Pasticcio that it put together itself “Anaesthesia”: a poetic, highly aesthetic physical theatre with a decidedly intelligent musical arrangement courtesy of the Austrian musical ensemble “Franui”, whose inclusion of the dulcimer and saxophone lends totally new colours to Handel’s music, without distorting it. Simply enchanting.

Salikus.de

…a sparkling performance rich in imagery and of astounding musical merit…
…The evening was a real treat for the eyes and ears and the audience showed its appreciation for the fantastical images and the brilliantly played music with thunderous applause…

Salikus.de

Those who attended the premiere of Nico and the Navigators’ pasticcio opera “Anaesthesia” on Friday at Halle’s Neue Theater were treated to a sparkling performance rich in imagery and of astounding musical merit. The pasticcio opera "Anaesthesia" had its enthralling premiere at the new theatre in Halle (Saale) (...) Nicola Hümpel and her ensemble whisked the audience away to the fictional land of Arcadia. Mystical creatures, sheep and cats crept, danced, leapt and strode their way across the stage. Mysticism, irony and decadence pervaded the images that were put before the audience members and set their imaginations in motion. Japanese dancer Yui Kawaguchi impressed particularly with interludes of dancing that exhibited a fascinating corporeal poetry. Countertenor Terry Wey sang and acted wonderfully, using measured movements to lend the presented images a truly distinctive touch. Adrian Gillott also convinced in the role of narrator within this highly inventive image and music theatre. He strolled through the baroque gallery of images in a jovial und distinguished manner and gave himself over to the ambiguities with a sense of irony (...) The evening was a real treat for the eyes and ears and the audience showed its appreciation for the fantastical images and the brilliantly played music with thunderous applause.

fair-news

…”Anaesthesia“, the new production from Nico and the Navigators and the Franui ensemble, created a real sensation. Die-hard Handel enthusiasts and intrepid theatregoers alike were held in thrall to this intoxicating “baroque narcosis” with its unique visual language and original instrumentation…

fair-news

"ANÆSTHESIA", the new production from Nico and the Navigators and the Franui ensemble, created a real sensation. Die-hard Handel enthusiasts and intrepid theatregoers alike were held in thrall to this intoxicating “baroque narcosis” with its unique visual language and original instrumentation.

Volkmar Draeger / Neues Deutschland

…One should not look for a red thread in “Anaesthesia”. Even if the soprano pulls it out of the mouth of one of the performers at the end. This is fun like everything else with Nico and the Navigators. After Schubert, this time the team around director Nicola Hümpel took Handel to task. Together with the Austrian music band Franui, named after the alpine meadow of an East Tyrolean village, a playground for baroque theater and its arsenal of characters was created from today’s, by no means seriously meant point of view…

Volkmar Draeger / Neues Deutschland

One should not look for a red thread in "Anaesthesia". Even if the soprano pulls it out of the mouth of one of the performers at the end. It's fun like everything else in Nico and the Navigators. After Schubert, this time the team around director Nicola Hümpel took Handel to task. Together with the Austrian music band Franui, named after the alpine meadow of an East Tyrolean village, they created a playground for baroque theater and its arsenal of characters from today's, by no means seriously meant point of view. In 32 numbers from 24 operas and oratorios, Franui merrily plunders the Handel fundus, plays music in the original, plunders and shreds the noble sound with foreign instruments such as accordion, dulcimer, saxophone, tuba. Franui sits on a podium behind gauze in the depth of the peep-box, as Oliver Proske has simply and effectively built it into the stage-free space of the Radialsystem, becomes visible in the parts without singing, and even sings along with the ensemble. Otherwise, the arias, duets and tercets are the responsibility of singers, among whom Terry Wey impresses with his lightly controlled, coloratura-assured countertenor of radiance and piano culture. The many small actions of the Navigators, consisting of dancers, actors and acrobats, also ensure the insensitivity to pain promised in the title. Right at the beginning, Patric Schott is carried out as a living sculpture and cleaned by Yui Kawaguchi. Again and again she will polish the actors during the 90 minutes of the show, if she is not dancing. Et in Arcadia Ego, it says Schott brushed on her belly. To that baroque Arcadia belongs a saber-armored Turk with a Handelian house cap, who speaks the recitatives, intersperses them with many a topical reference. He talks about material imported from Asia, while Kawaguchi touches silk, then lolls himself erotically on ram skins, as two reclining women wear them in the entrance picture and as they are constantly on the scene. A mistake in the daily routine, Adrian Gillott continues, could have cost social status back then. Image after image is lined up in a constant flow. A headless woman's gesticulating hands sprout from her brain, a man hovers one-legged over the scene, feathers become wings, a woman shrieks prima donna-like in time to the music, Kawaguchi stabs a feather into the flesh of a man on the floor. Where have all the greats gone, the narrator asks, Alexander, Caesar, Frederick the Great, Che Guevara. "Piangerò" from Handel's "Giulio Cesare" is not far away, not "Nel riposo" from "Deidamia", which baritone Clemens Koelbl has to sing upside down from the portal. Quietly, thoughtfully, without any special climaxes and affects, everyone goes to the ground whitened for the death march from "Saul", having previously rolled the pavement of the footbridges into possessable moons under a wall of fog. One enjoys this and many other fantasy ingredients to the Handel ragout, winner on points remains the master from Halle.

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