Prize for Opera 2019
“Once, to be performed” The Project Files by Yani Christou © Heirs of Yani Christou i
Jani Christou (1926-1970) is one of the most fascinating composers of the postwar avant-garde generation. Born in the Greek community in Egypt, he studied philosophy in Cambridge with Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russell as well as composition, and continued his studies later on in Rome. He briefly also attended lectures by Carl Gustav Jung in Zürich. Later on, he lived and worked in Greece.
In his works he was always interested in crossing borders and exploring what is unthought-of. This encroached also on the more than 130 so-called “projects files” left behind by Jani Christou with the notation “to be realized” when he died in a car accident on his 44th birthday, on January 8, 1970. It is a collection of systematically structured descriptions of possible compositions.
The Munich Biennale has signed a contract with the composer’s heirs, which allows the Biennale to use the “project files” for the following project: composers of different origin, age, and aesthetic horizons will be invited to use selected “project files” by Jani Christou as a starting point to compose modules of (a) music theater piece(s) which will have their world premieres at the Munich Biennale in 2020. The composers are: Beat Furrer; Barblina Meierhans; Samir Odeh-Tamimi; Younghi Pagh Paan; Olga Neuwirth; and Christian Wolff. Michail Marmarinos will be responsible for the overall artistic concept and stage direction. Concerning the cast, the production should have a module structure: a common basic cast for every part of the project: the Ensemble Dissonart (Thessaloniki); vocalists of the Deutsche Oper (still to be announced); and perhaps a Berlin-based student choir that already took part in the Biennale in 2018. This basic cast will be involved in the major rehearsal periods in February and May 2020 in Berlin. In additional, local musicians, choirs, and performers with a short-term rehearsal period (consisting of a few days) might be integrated into one or another module.
The artistic team of the project in the moment consists of six composers and an overall artistic and stage director.
The composers Beat Furrer, Switzerland, Olga Neuwirth, Austria, Youngi Pagh-Paan, South-Korea, Christian Wolff, USA, Barblina Meierhans, Switzerland and Samir, Odeh-Tamimi, Palestine-Israeli have been chosen because it was the aim of the project to invite composers of different origin, age, and aesthetic horizons to use selected “project files” as a starting point to compose modules of (a) music theater piece(s). Barblina Meierhans and Samir Odeh-Tamimi as emerging composers will be embedded in the creation process working together with their more established colleagues.
The overall artistic and stage director, Michail Marmarinos, Greece, will be responsible for the overall artistic conception, combining the different composed “modules” to a whole evening program. He will also be the stage director of the piece(s) and select the additional artistic team members like stage designer, sound designer, video and light designer.
A conductor will be selected by the co-producers. As stage designer he proposed the visual artist Yorgos Sapountzis, Greece.