Lulu

2015

Music into Ink

Lulu is one of the great operas of the 20th Century, written by Alban Berg in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s and left incomplete, in the orchestration, at his death.  It is an opera about the fragility, the impossibility, the fragmentation of desire.  It’s about Lulu, who during the course of the opera goes through many lovers and several husbands and each time, there is an impossibility.  Lulu can’t be the woman that the men imagine her to be or project onto her.  She can never fulfil the desires of being the femme fatale and the faithful quiet wife.

Lulu

Composer
Alban Berg

Librettist
Frank Wedekind

Director
William Kentridge

Co-director
Luc de Wit

Projection designer
Catherine Meyburgh

Set designer
Sabine Theunissen

Costume designer
Greta Goiris

Lighting designer
Urs Schönebaum

Approx. 3 hours 22 minutes

World premiere Opera House, Zurich, 1937 (unfinished version); Théâtre National de l’opéra, Paris, 1979 (three-act version) This production Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam, June 2015; Metropolitan Opera, New York, November 2015; English National Opera, London, November 2016.

Right Into Her Arms

2016
Kinetic model theatre with projected images, drawings and props
HD video, software and circuitry, electronic components, wood, steel, cardboard, found paper and found objects
300 x 244 x 125 cm

Running time 11 minutes

Video editing and construction
Janus Fouché

Software design
Janus Fouché

Model theatre design
Christoff Wolmarans

Mechanical design
Chris-Waldo de Wet

Scenography
Sabine Theunissen

Performers
Luc De Wit
Joanna Dudley
Dada Masilo

Music

Kurt Schwitters, Ursonate, performed by William Kentridge

Das gibts nur einmal performed by Zarah Leander

Anton Webern, Stück für Klavier, im Tempo eines Menuetts, performed by Hayk Melikyan 

James Kok, Und die ganze Welt spricht von Nanette, performed by James Kok Tanz Orchestra

Arnold Schönberg, Mahnung (Brettl-Lieder), performed by Burcu Kurt (soprano) and Karlheinz Donauer (piano) 

Making

Ink is the primary medium of the production. Sometimes, ink drawings translated into woodcuts or linocuts but essentially the vehemence of a black brushstroke trying to find some equivalent visually to the violence of the opera in the marks and the way they are used. It is almost as if ink becomes the black blood that is spilt throughout the production.

The set has to work in two ways. It has to work as the receiver of the projections but it also has to work as a theatrical space of the different rooms: the artist’s studio, the garret in London, the gaming room in Paris, Dr Schön’s house. And so the furniture and the flats and the walls have to both have an Art Deco attention-to-detail and finish in material and also work in a way that they can reflect the projected images.

Opera

Lulu is a nasty opera. Each time one hopes for a redemptive moment in one or another character, one’s hopes are dashed. When one thinks that Lulu is finally going to release herself into voluptuous love, she says to Alva, who has declared his love for her as he buries his head in her breasts, “Isn’t this the sofa where your father bled to death?” One of the wonders of the opera is our complicity as audience in Alva’s response: “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, I want to stay in this moment.”

Right Into Her Arms

Kinetic model theatre with projections
William Kentridge Lulu

Painter: Would you mind just lifting your skirt a little?
Lulu: Like this?
Painter: If I may…
Lulu: Behave yourself!
Painter: Let me gently…
Lulu: No thank you!
Painter: Don’t be so tense.
Lulu: Please keep your hands to yourself.

Drawings

Prints

Exhibitions

More

Reading

More projects

Credits

Lulu

Composer
Alban Berg

Librettist
Frank Wedekind

Director
William Kentridge

Co-director
Luc de Wit

Projection designer
Catherine Meyburgh

Set designer
Sabine Theunissen

Costume designer
Greta Goiris

Lighting designer
Urs Schönebaum

Approx. 3 hours 54 minutes

World premiere
Opera House, Zurich, 1937 (unfinished version); Théâtre National de l’opéra, Paris, 1979 (three-act version)

This production
Dutch National Opera, Amsterdam, June 2015; Metropolitan Opera, New York, November 2015; English National Opera, London, November 2016.

Right Into Her Arms

2016

Kinetic model theatre with projected images, drawings and props
HD video, software and circuitry, electronic components, wood, steel, cardboard, found paper and found objects

300 x 244 x 125 cm

Running time 11 minutes

Video editing and construction
Janus Fouché

Software design
Janus Fouché

Model theatre design
Christoff Wolmarans

Mechanical design
Chris-Waldo de Wet

Scenography
Sabine Theunissen

Performers
Luc De Wit
Joanna Dudley
Dada Masilo

Music
Kurt Schwitters, Ursonate, performed by William Kentridge

Das gibts nur einmal performed by Zarah Leander

Anton Webern, Stück für Klavier, im Tempo eines Menuetts, performed by Hayk Melikyan

James Kok, Und die ganze Welt spricht von Nanette, performed by James Kok Tanz Orchestra

Arnold Schönberg, Mahnung (Brettl-Lieder), performed by Burcu Kurt (soprano) and Karlheinz Donauer (piano)