Photo: Wil van Iersel
Theater Aachen 2008, Ludger Engels dir. (WP)
Nijinskys Tagebuch (2007/08)
for two singers, two actors, two dancers and instrumental ensemble
Text adapted by Carolyn Sittig based on the diaries by Waslaw Nijinsky, in the German translation by Alfred Frank (G)
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This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.
Ludger Engels, director
Conductor: Daniel Jakobi
Company: Theater Aachen
Nijinsky’s Diary is not an opera but is rather a mixture of prose, melodrama and musical theatre. It is based on excerpts from diaries by Waslaw Nijinski, written between January 19, 1919 and March 4, 1919, after his last public performance and before his admission to a psychiatric hospital.
The selected passages represent themes and stylistic features typical of these diaries. Nijinsky’s style remains completely unchanged, even under the influence of his nascent schizophrenia. While the order of a few sections was re-arranged and a very small number of sentences were shortened, chronological order still forms the basic structure of the text.
Along with allusions to everyday life, the themes featured in the texts include memories, future visions, poems, puns and the disintegration of language. Specific and trivial incidents are juxtaposed with metaphysical or naive reflections. A particularly fascinating aspect of these diaries is the fact that they are a record of the early stages of Nijinski’s schizophrenia, a written comment on the condition under which he is writing.
The text is not treated as an individual voice in the composition but divided up among six actors who all represent Nijinsky, or his speaking self. In the course of the work, they increasingly superimpose each other, musically remodelling the intellectual loops and spirals that are so characteristic of the diaries.
“This premiere at the Aachen Theatre was an unqualified success, depicting the psychological crisis in its purest form... The audience at the premiere followed the composer unanimously on this unfamiliar journey... Glanert carries the split personality to extremes, in that the character of Nijinsky is split as if into six figures portrayed by two singers, two actors and two dancers, all of whom are required to exceed their performing abilities. In this piece, Glanert’s music is tougher and more abrupt than in previous works to date... Cool cluster blocks alternate with pleasant musical echoes, grotesque dislocated sounds with tonal songs of fine poetry.” (Pedro Obiera, Gießener Allgemeine, 07 Apr 2008)
“How does a composer write music to match such a journey into the inner psyche? Glanert’s solution is a highly differentiated, diversified soundworld... Formally and dramatically, everything is well-considered, written with a sure hand, the text structured with composed loops always driving forward... Three instrumental interludes giving the impression of the trauma, with embedded elements of dance and jazz, introduce a naive-cheerful note almost as a reminiscence motif... A well-crafted music theatre piece.” (Gerhard Rohde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, 08 Apr 2008)