Author Topic: Der Sandmann E.T.A. Hoffmann Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus 20.4.2017  (Read 1823 times)

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Who would have thought it? The last Annas concert was at the Blackheath Festival in September 2015.
Now I was sitting in the Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus and was very curious about what was to come about.
Then the doors were closed and the hall was full down to the last place. A pleasantly diversified clientele.
The audience was introduced to the event by Robert Wilson. He encoureged us pouring out our feelings and feel free
to scream and laugh. He promissed nonchalant not to destroy the first two front rows.
Then the typical calvish drums begun. I was worried if my 85 years old neighbour would survive this, the
man left bounced in his seat with his whole body. The music has touched me extraordinarily, I got goose bumps!
What a great evening!
I will not judge Wilsons work, because I have nothing to compare with.
The images, light and stage design were extraordinary and complex and also very entertaining, but I can say that
the time flashed past (2,5 h)!!
Annas music was familiar to what we already heared from her. Very melodic and filled with tension and
vocaly successfully realized by Rosa Enskat and Christian Friedel. But I have to admit that I miss Annas voice, because
it´s weird when different people are singing her songs.
The song from the Burberry Show "Whip the night" was also in the play, but it was a little disapointing compared to
Annas vocals arrangement in that B. show. I missed the shrill tone. Dreeeeeeeeam on!! ;-)
I was impressed by the song called "Hurricane", I think :-) it´s a very catchy song, hopefully we all can hear it one day
on the new record? ;-) I count about 3-4 new songs.

I would recommend everyone to go. It´s worth it. And absolutely on 20th Mai, because she will attend the premiere.

 8) Agnes 8)


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Re: Der Sandmann E.T.A. Hoffmann Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus 20.4.2017
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2017, 04:03:39 PM »
Thanks a lot for your review, Agnes, and for recording a few snippets of the play :).
The music really sounds beautiful, especially this song that's apparently called "Sunday", sounds so much better than "Whip the Night" ( sorry, still not my cup of tea  ). The actors have beautiful voices, but I agree, I'd also love to hear the songs sung by Anna herself, because she still makes the difference ;).
Hopefully she'll add these songs on her album or will put them on another EP.
Mox nox.


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Re: Der Sandmann E.T.A. Hoffmann Düsseldorfer Schauspielhaus 20.4.2017
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2017, 09:36:16 PM »
Thank you for the review! The "Sunday"-song is really beautiful  :)
Will anyone be attending the premiere on May 20?



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I think some people are planning to make it to the Dusseldorf performances.  I made it to Reckli, along with Michael and Monica. Many thanks to Eszter for the ticket! Brian and I were lucky enough to go on the first and second nights, and Monica also got to see the dress rehearsal. We feel very lucky indeed, Agnes will know what I mean.

I know others will have a better sense of the Sandmann story and its characters than I do -- and will be able to pick up what's going on in the dialogue. So here's some very crude initial thoughts from me.

There's something to delight and thrill almost everybody - and something to piss off almost everybody too. (Personal disclaimer: I have had it up to HERE with giggles of clownish glee morphing into the cackles of madness). It's not your usual play, or musical:

•   music - two distinct musical personalities at work, Anna's and Jherek Bischoff's. Anna contributed 8 songs + 2 instrumentals. Jherek did the incidental music - music for dance scenes, music accompanying action, music for characters in front of the curtain while scenery is changed, and underscoring spoken words. There's also some quotes from Offenbach (I think - not an operetta expert, so easily wrong).

•   action - what you see on stage is overall closer to tableaux of characters reflecting on the events and their reactions - not action setting out the plot and driving it forward. There are lots of mirror scenes, lots of visual effects of clockwork and ambiguity.

•   visually it is very stylised - a largely empty stage, exaggerated costumes, striking lighting effects. In other words, there is nowhere for the actors to hide: it all comes down to them to sing and convey the meaning of the scenes. There's a high risk of them over-acting and/ or falling flat on their faces. Brilliant performances from Rosa Enskat Nathaniel's mother and Lou Strenger as Clara

•   dialogue is in German, Anna's songs are in English.  Because of the language difference, the lyrics were printed in the programme. 

Band - one row deep, in the pit, audience left to audience right, with no conductor :
Bass - dble and electric /cello/viola/violin & keyboards/drums/guitars & mandolin/clarinet  & bass clarinet/ trombone andtuba, /electronics & sound mixing desk and tapes (sound effects, mostly)

Jherek was involved in arranging Anna's music, but his own music is very different from Anna's. For the audience in the festival, the main difference was that Anna's music was very very loud  compared to everything else, and the sedate burghers of Recklinghausen and patrons of the festival did struggle with that. 

Personally, I thought the two different musical styles did  fit with the duality and ambiguity of the story - and of Nathaniel's character. My faves from Jherek were a very funny parody aria for Nathaniels' mother - the only bit of singing that Jherek contributed, I think; a camply exuberant klezmer/ragtime scene change; a sweet string quartetty section; and the music for the ball scene.

My Anna favourites -  Surrender to the Wave - this is the Surrender song Agnes mentioned, and I agree it's beautiful - , Sunday Light,  True Lies, I See A Death in Your Eyes.

So: Prolog (A Fall Down the Stairs) - "There will be a horror" Energetic and rocky, gets it all moving. More or less everybody singing parts of it, but on tape, I expect, as they were all busy Doing Stuff Onstage.

Bed Scene 1 (The Sandman Story) - Sunday Light. This is gorgeous rich ballad, sung here first by Nathaniel's mother, and then reprised. It's an earworm, and you know what? I don't care.

Nathaniel's Bedroom Scene 2 - Surrender to the Wave. Nathaniel's awakening from a nightmare. Another ballad for Nathaniel's mother - same character, so similar in pacing and range to Sunday Light. But a different feel to the song.
A Scene in the Garden - three songs following each other: 
•   Nathaniel and Clara declare their love for each other:  True Lies
•   Nathaniel has second thoughts about this, because of Olympia: I See A Death in Your Eyes   
•   and Clara's brother Lothar fights a duel with Nathaniel (swords). At some point Clara gets between the two of them and takes her turn singing verses of  I Whip the Night. Please don't ask me who sings which exact verse ...

Start of Act 2 Intermezzo: The Sandman Song. At the start of the second act, the Sandman - well, does this. (By the way, I'm not 100% sure it makes sense to have The Sandman on stage as a separate character, it does lessen the essential uncanniness and ambiguity of the whole thing. But I digress.)

Ball Scene 1 - Olympia's Aria and Dance The Hurricane.  Olympia is played, extremely well, by a dancer who's silent, and this explosive rock number is sung by Nathaniel. Full of contrasts, it's got  some incredibly lovely passing touches.
Spalanzani's Workshop - a FIght over Olympia - an instrumental. Heavy on guitar. (By the way, there's another instrumental from Anna in the show, but I forget where. )

Bed Scene 4 - Nathaniel and Clara Reunite - Sunday Light, rearranged for Clara, Nathaniel's mother and Nathaniel's friends Lothar and Siegmund. Mostly to strings. I liked this even better than the first time round. SNIFF.

I'm planning on posting the lyrics in another thread,  since they are available.

Really glad I saw this - it's amazing to hear Anna adventuring into theatre, and taking all the risks that come with that. The run of three songs in the Garden Scene gives you a hint of what she could do in a complete score of her own,  they're beautifully contrasted and evocative of the situations and characters. (Although to my ear, Whip The NIght was the weakest of the three, but that's just me. )  The strongest songs on their own for me were the ones I mentioned above.

I hope the music gets a record release.


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Thank you for the detailed description of the play and the music!! It gives a good impression of what it was like and how it felt  :D. I wish I could go and hear Anna's music.

Good night,