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Photo: Regine Körner
Biennale München, 1996

Oehring, Helmut

DAS D'AMATO SYSTEM (1996)

Duration: 60 minutes
Dance opera in 15 scenes

Text by Helmut Oehring (G)

Scoring
deaf female soloist (sign- and spoken language), 2 voices, 1 speaker, 2 dancers; bfl.ob.bcl-hrn.tpt.trbn-perc(2)-harp-pft(=sample keyboard)-elec.gtr(=elec.bass)-vl.vlc.
Abbreviations (PDF).


Territory
This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.



World Premiere
5/9/1996
Carl Orff Saal, Munich
Maxim Dessau, director
Conductor: Roland Kluttig
Company: Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin

Synopsis

Music therapy gives ample evidence that music follows the same hidden structures that govern our body movements and perceptions. Are boxers therefore musicians? In any case they are masochists, Helmut Oehring says – after all they are addicted to being punched. But perhaps they seek something completely different in the ring – possibly something similar to that which the composer seeks on stage? They read every body movement of the opposite number and develop methods such as the system named after Mike Tyson's coach Cus D'Amato which enables one to move forwards and backwards at the same time. Their body language, which is spoken by means of reflex and intuition, avoids the explicit language of mere words.

Boxing fan Oehring goes even further, mixing spoken language with the language of writing, gesture, dance, music and film. A montage of sounds in classical and popular style is created, the singing being accompanied by the simultaneous narration of a text in sign language, "cold screens and the empty movements of huge metal structures (...) in the spirit of the unholy trinity of Dada, Bauhaus and disco" (Wolfgang Schreiber) intertwine. All of this is done for the sake of the thrill of the unique encounter, a sort of communication through pure, eloquent movement not alienated by ‘meaning’. Is Oehring truly a masochist – or rather a kind of boxer?


Press Quotes
"On first hearing and watching, Oehring’s dance opera presents itself as a conglomerate of various components of musical theatre which, though captivating, are difficult to disentangle. The musicians sit at the front of the stage and play the scores as if they were the sound track to a nightmarish piece of musical theatre: an opera sliding between seriousness and entertainment, between delicate chamber music and crashing disco sound, between gentle, minimalist introspection and hammering rock rhythms. The whole mixture of electronically produced sounds and special effects, of live music amplified in a sophisticated manner (with the ‘circle-surround’ sound system) must be based on a hidden structure - this remains the secret of the score of a strong yet vulnerable composer. The crucial element of the whole ‘composition’ is Helmut Oehring’s almost filmic technique of starkly cutting sounds. It’s very exciting." (Wolfgang Schreiber, SZ, 10.05.1996)


Moods
Dramatic


Subjects
Contemporary, Relationships, Society


Recommended Recording
Christina Schönfeld / Salome Kammer / Matthias Hille / Anna Clementi
Kammerensemble Neue Musik Berlin / Roland Kluttig
Deutscher Musikrat, Editon "Musik in Deutschland" (1950–2000) (Oper)
(excerpt)
BMG/ RCA 74321 73544 2

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