Editorial Daniel Ott and Manos Tsangaris

The Munich Biennale is worldwide the only festival that shows exclusively world premieres of new music theater works. In the past the festival has opened up a multitude of opportunities for young composers to test themselves and their artistic ambitions at the highest level.When Dr. Hans-Georg Küppers, the director of the Department of Arts and Culture of the City of Munich, asked us whether we were interested in taking over starting in 2016 as the artistic directors of this special festival, we were not only surprised and extremely pleased about the wonderful prospects, we also immediately saw the confidence placed in us as a challenge to continue the extremely successful history over the last decades and to continue developing new contents and formal dimensions. Once again two composers were asked to take over as successors to the composers Hans-Werner Henze and Peter Ruzicka. This alone speaks its own language.Music theater is to us more than just a genre-related, sensuous delight. The classic composition term has been expanded. And for very good comprehensible reasons. Our phenomenological relationships, in particular concerning aesthetic and formal frameworks, are happening all at once, irrespective of the grave political changes. How do the arts react? Or even better: how they act! For what is invented, experimentally compacted, and attempted in a model experiment, bound seemingly only by the genuine and the beautiful, soon finds itself - frequently under other names and masks - in completely different social relationships, not the least in advertising, film, communication and media. But also there where news is conveyed and opinions are formed. To us this means opening up and protecting the art realm as a place for research. The expanded composition term encompasses very different formats. From new opera to scenic installation, from minimalized artistic interventions in municipal spaces to composed performance - just to name a few.This spectrum forms a realm that our social »multilingualism,« the everyday media polyphony, artistically acuminates and reflects. For this reason new music theater has become an open field, which can illuminate social and even political questions under special conditions.Especially at the beginning of our work it seems self-evident to us to choose a theme that examines and executes the multilingualism, the translation qualities, and the conjunction among the component languages of new music theater. »OmU - Original mit Untertiteln« (»original version with subtitles«) comes initially from a cinematic context, but it very quickly becomes clear that it could, for example, also be called »original version with supertitles,« like what occurs during most opera performances. And what does originality mean, what is a translation within music theater, within its templates, libretti, scores, performances, traditions, documentations, and stories of its reception ... just to imply the thematic circle here.From the beginning we had decided to make the Munich Biennale primarily a forum for newcomers once again. The average age of the artists in 2016 lies in the range of 30 years. In order to open up new paths for the young artists, starting in 2013 we had already organized so-called international biennale platforms, at first in Munich but then also with international partners worldwide, for example in Bern; Rotterdam; Buenos Aires; Beijing; and in many more cities. Here selected young artists from different disciplines - in other words, not just composers, but also set designers, authors, directors, video artists, performers, etc. - encounter one another to contemplate certain themes and questions, get to know one another and each other's works, and in the end form work teams, which will pursue together their respective projects over the course of the following months and years. Team work is equally as important to us as the individual, artistic concentration at a worktable. Our first edition in 2016 is drawing a significant share of its projects from these platforms. What is decisive here is that the artistic subsections encounter one another and exchange with one another on an eye-to-eye basis, and are from the start open to productive debates.The Munich Biennale 2016 is presenting itself in a temporally and spatially concentrated form. This means that in a very short period there will be more premieres and a distinctly higher concentration of performances, and all of this very close to Muffatwerk, our festival center. All of the performance venues can be reached easily on foot from here, whether it is Müller'sche Volksbad, the Gasteig Cultural Center, the art spaces at Lothringer 13, or Einstein Kultur. Some of the happenings will take place in municipal spaces, for instance, a bus opera, a »homeopathic mob,« or an opera in a city quarter. In addition, within a sweeping fluid discussion the entire program of the festival will be prepared, conveyed, and reflected upon in a multitude of events by different cooperation partners. And also within the Biennale itself its theme will be pondered and discussed during a three-day symposium.We hope and wish that the Munich Biennale will continue to be a unique international festival of new music theater and can fertilize und inspire in an intense form the practice and lively discussion of contemporary music theater, that as many people as possible can see the diversity and quality of the artistic offerings, and that in the long run the participating artists will also be sponsored, encouraged, and supported in their research activities. »«Daniel Ott, Manos TsangarisArtistic Directors, Munich BiennaleFestival of New Music TheaterNovember 2015

 

 

OmU ("Original version with subtitles") The Munich Biennale 2016 Marion Hirte and Malte Ubenauf, dramaturgy

Original version with subtitles. Everything is already said here for all of those passionate cinemagoers and fans of series who vehemently refuse to watch synchronized versions of cinematic works they revere: »original version with subtitles« - this is the decisive indication (even more: the symbol!) of an unaltered film viewing on every public and private screen on this planet. But what does the most famous abbreviation in television and film history mean in connection with the first edition of the »Munich Biennale of New Music Theater« under the artistic directors Daniel Ott and Manos Tsangaris? It is the intrinsic equivocality of the first of the three letters that moved Tsangaris and Ott to confront themselves and all of the artists participating in the festival with the question of what really is meant when one talks about an »original.« In regards to opera and music theater the answer appears to quickly found: an original - that's the composer's score based on a libretto. But is the matter really so simple? Are not, on the other hand, all of the musical-dramatic forms of expression conceived for a gathering of and interaction between numerous and different artists? For mutually transforming into a sonic and scenic occurrence an elaborate musical invention they have worked on together in symbolic forms? And what is, therefore, the score? In reality the original? Isn't it true that in fact first during the public performance, in the interplay of sound, scene, space, and audience an original becomes perceivable? An original that constantly changes and renews itself from performance to performance, from production to production? Is there a difference between »authors« and »interpreters« when the artists participating in the performance make the original version possible in the first place?The question concerning the original is - among other things - the question concerning the origins of an artistic work, the question concerning a music theater invention (in turn »original«) based on inspirations and materials, and therefore a question concerning the myth of the concept of the work per se.The dimensions of the problem involving an original version with subtitles was illuminated as part of the first international Biennale platform, initiated by Daniel Ott and Manos Tsangaris some two-and-a-half years ago, to which almost thirty young artists from the areas of composition, direction, sets, costumes, dramaturgy, and video as well as numerous instrumental interpreters were invited: Which artist participates in which manner in the invention of an original music theater work? To what extent is the demand for original artistic achievements at all productive? Which »origins« of music-dramatic works would be conceivable when a score based on a libretto is not the crucial reference source? Scenic origins? Choreographic? Spatial?The statement »original version with subtitles« contains a multitude of fundamental differences. These can be found in the complicated relationship of literality and iconicity, of sign language structure and the reproduced, in other words, sonic playback. The Western European culture did indeed invent a system of symbols by inventing staves, which is not dependent upon a translation in the classical sense (from a national language into another), and yet the music system of symbols requires numerous simultaneous reading methods from the participants who are part of the performance. Reading methods that have to be understood as forms of the translation, as transmissions of characters in sound, song, images, spaces, and movements. And as it is well-known that all translations are also inventions - because there are no explicit translations, not to mention translations faithful to the original version - the transmitters in the genre of music theater are always co-authors who put the existing writing system through their personal comprehension filter and enrich it, comment on it, and alter it in accordance with the translation. It is also similarly valid vice versa. And indeed, always when composers in the course of a so-called »scoring« transform non-musical contents into their staves. Even more so, however, in such cases where scenic or spatial considerations should be translated into a musical system of symbols. Added to all of this is the question: To whom actually do the copyrights of translation processes belong to in which the author of an »original« composes from a multitude of translating authors?So what exactly is an original? And what meaning do subtitles have when the original work itself is already a complex, subtitled construct that is composed of a multitude of original artistic inventions and transmissions? The pursuit of these questions is what the artists participating in the Munich Biennale of New Music Theater 2016 are interested in. Upon the initiative of Daniel Ott and Manos Tsangaris, nine teams have developed since the autumn of 2014, teams that came together on their own via the Biennale platform, for a total of nine concrete projects dealing with the theme of »original version with subtitles« and henceforth will celebrate their premieres as part of the coming festival. Nine »originals« that examine the subject of the ambiguity of artistic authorship in very different ways. Nine drafts of contemporary music theater, which - supplemented by three projects initiated outside of the Biennale platform - on the one hand were conceived for traditional concert spaces and theater stages at Muffatwerk and the Gasteig Cultural Center, and on the other hand were also conceived for unusual performance situations in the close surrounding environment of the festival center as well as for public spaces.With the expansion of the performance venues to include the neighborhood around Muffathalle the Biennale artists will explore the question of to what extent the conditions of an original location intensifies and enriches the problem of an »original version with subtitles« in their respective projects. And so the artistic teams of the Biennale will perform during the duration of the festival at, in addition to Muffathalle and the Carl-Orff-Saal at the Gasteig Cultural Center, Müller'sches Volksbad (which is in the immediate neighborhood of these two venues), the exhibition space Lothringer 13, the performance spaces at the Einstein Kultur venue, as well as at different locations in municipal and public spaces. The performance formats will be accordingly multifaceted: Performances and installations open for several hours (»Handun«; »The Navidson Records«) will be going on during the entire day, and thus are a prelude to and also in synch with the evening performances with the more or less classical performance times of 90 minutes or 120 minutes (»if this then that and now what«; »Speere, Stein, Klavier« [»Spears, Stone, Piano«], »Sweat of the Sun«; »Für immer ganz oben« [»Forever Overhead«]; »Mnemo/scene: Echos«). Unannounced interventions in municipal spaces (»Staring at the Bin«) will take place parallel to the tours offered several times a day in the Biennale Cinema Bus (»ANTICLOCK - OmU« [»ANTICLOCK - original version with subtitles«]). The constantly intersecting temporal course of the performances evokes a continuously changing, reciprocal subtitling of the respective ongoing events. A rather subversive phenomenon, which is presented for every Biennale audience member differently - depending upon which events of the festival will be selected in which order. In this manner the member of the audience will become a co-author of an original work - an original version of the progression of a festival day, dependent upon his or her perception and interaction. While for one visitor the music theater composition based on a short story by David Foster Wallace »Für immer ganz oben« (»Forever Overhead«) is combined with a visit to the installation inspired by the 800-page novel »House of Leaves« by the American author Mark Z. Danielewski and becomes a genuine labyrinth of subtitles, another visitor has already gone through a road movie of the performative type. The original and live improvised soundtracks of this cinematic tour inevitably influence the further course of the day and provide the subtitles, for example, for the visit to the production »Sweat of the Sun« - whose examination of the »original version with subtitles« theme is created by working with texts from Werner Herzog's »Eroberung des Nutzosen« (»Conquest of the Useless«). Whoever is underway during the second week of the festival will ultimately experience how an entire city quarter will become an original version with subtitles. The educational project »GAACH« will investigate, with approximately 100 residents from the city quarter where the festival takes place, the »original version with subtitles« phenomena in the immediate surroundings. The envisaged result here: more or less a folk opera.