Play* Europeras 1&2

Music theatre by John Cage

By Daniel Wetzel

It premiered in 1987 at the Frankfurt Opera – the Alte Oper – and John Cage said that the project was one of the few decisions that he regretted in his life; probably feeling that the decisions – inordinately numerous, even for his sensibilities – which superficially evaded taste, tradition, manner and ideology, had to be made according to the ancient divination manual the I Ching. John Cage left it open whether the dice should be cast anew every evening, for example by each singer, alone in her or his wardrobe.

We’ve decided to perform the operations just once and to give precision the time it needs, to lend strength to coincidence. To answer the question of how many parts the opera should have, we asked the landlord of a tavern close to the Wupper near the opera beforehand: How many countries do you think there are on the European continent? He introduced himself as a Palestinian and a sometimes-programmer and chose 27. Are you sure? 27. In our production, Europeras is divided into 27 parts.

For an area of 64 quadrants, we organised countless determining operations; which of the 10 or 9 singers should wear which costume on which quadrant to sing from which aria, and for how long, and whilst which images, scenographic elements or props appear, and which sets could get there.

Europeras 1 & 2 is an operatic circus – an experiment in the unexpected, the unheard-of. It spans the broad distance between the unexpected and the decision – both in its development process and in every moment of the performance. How do we deal with surprise? With the unheard-of? When – if not in the new – is listening in worth it? What – if not the observation of how one deals with the conventions one brings to the table – is at stake in this game? 

Europe – in a phase of sharpening its paradoxical and hopefully elemental strengths – is the face gazing at its own reflection in the mirror of its operas. For Europeras 2, we will travel to a different city on the continent for each of the 9 voices, filming opera singers as they sing their arias in remembrance mode. At a traffic light. In their living rooms. In front of their city’s most famous landmark. In places of coincidence.

When we started the project, we thought it was particularly about the Europeras and the art of John Cage, and more generally about the playful instinct which is now creating a new dimension of meteorology on the high speed stock exchange – temporary financial weather conditions whose algorithmic flickering is no longer guided by brains. On the contrary, we discovered that at the core of this project is a permanent weighing and observation of values, which we appreciate, because instead of discussion it celebrates our interaction with the things we encounter. And if you can’t celebrate it, as John Cage said, then it isn’t art.


Musical direction: Johannes Pell
Production: Rimini Protokoll
Direction: Daniel Wetzel
Stage and costumes: Katrin Wittig
Light: Fredy Deisenroth
Co direction: Alexander Fahima
Video: Expander Film, Lilli Kuschel, Stefan Korsinsky
Production management Wuppertal and evening director: Swetlana Boos
Production management Rimini Protokoll: Juliane Männel
Production management assistance: Christina Tischler
Collaboration research, Internship in directing: Kristin Brechler
Sound mix video: Caspar Wolfertz
Assistence stage design: Katharina Andes
Internship in stage design: Victoriia Shved
And  Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal.
With: Angela Titt, Carmen Düver, Christel Trösken, Gabriele Barczik, Heidi Stein, Holger Reich, Thorsten Engelhardt, Ingrid Grandtnerova, Michael Kallweit, Manfred Giesen, Markus Christian Koch, Meena Heidemann, Sebastian Enke.
EUROPERA 1: Mark Bowman-Hester, Sebastian Campione, Jasmin Etezadzadeh, Sangmin Jeon, Nina Koufochristou, Denis Lakey, Lucia Lucas, Ralitsa Ralinova, Liudmila Slepneva, Iris Marie Sojer.
Ceren Aydın Akkoç (Istanbul), Roman Arndt(St. Petersburg), Anush Hovhannisyan (London), Lucia Lucas (Wuppertal), Aphrodite Patoulidou (Athen), Silvia De Stefano (Neapel), Sebastià Peris (Valencia), Johannes Schwendinger (Wien), Armands Silins (Riga)

And the Sinfonieorchester Wuppertal.

A production by Rimini Apparat and Oper Wuppertal