ODYSSEY: Dead Men Die nmz – neue musikzeitung

Gardner’s music provides a basis for manifold theatrical actions.


Stefan Drees
published on

For six years now Opera Lab Berlin, founded 2014 by the composer Evan Gardner and the director Michael Höppner, has put the idea of a radical musical equality of all performers at the heart of its work.

As with all since then presented projects, the realization of Gardner’s newest music theater „Odyssey: Dead Men Die“ profits from the ensemble’s working method, without hierarchies, based on common responsibility for the development of all aspects of the performance. […] The performance proves to be a plump theater farce full of successful devices which is staged by Höppner - in a stage design by Martin Miotk and enhanced with videos by Christian Striboll - as a form of station theater in various spots throughout the venue. […] Again and again, Gardner’s music, with it’s shifts between finely elaborated and rather coarsely meshed structured passages, provides a basis for manifold theatrical actions. […] That all of this functions immaculately, must be booked as Opera Lab’s great merit. The performance not only proves, with what meticulousness the ensemble members shape Gardner’s musical guidelines and develop them into the superordinate theatrical framework. It also makes clear, that the ensemble led by Shin-Joo Morgantini and Louis Bona does justice to the enormous demands of the performative structure - consisting of singing, speaking, playing without score and acting in formation with others or as a soloist. The outcome is only problematic in the fact, that the music theater evening’s abundance of allusions cannot be comprehended in its totality and would really require a second viewing, in order to fully contextualize the experience. But isn’t that a positive signal in a time, in which everything is reduced to handy nibbles and in return avoids everything all too voluminous?

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