September 23, 2021

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Barry Kosik's book "On Ecstasy" - Culture

Barry Kosik’s book “On Ecstasy” – Culture

Barry Kosky notes that “musical theater” is fleeting, it arises and passes… “The director and artistic director of Berlin’s Komich Opera is sad and philosophical when he recently presented his final season in Berlin. However, he has found an alternative location, more permanent than the stormy art of theater – A book called “In Ecstasy”, not a novel, just a text written in German, a small book, the size of a wide palm. In it: Memories and Reflections of a Man Who Made His Way to the Powerful Musical Theater Makers of the Present. Barrie Kosky chooses his personal tone of voice, just as he is The case on stage, when he charms his audience through the microphone, releasing emotions freely.But “ecstasy”?This is “a feeling of euphoria, ecstasy or rapture associated with mystical or prophetic enthusiasm.”

To make this concrete, Kosky, born in Melbourne in 1967, reflects on moments of tangible happiness. First and foremost, they relate to his Polish grandmother and her culinary skills, with chicken soup. Kosky recalls the “seven-year-old Jewish boy” and his early enjoyment of eating: “The first spoonful of hot soup poured into my mouth and a deep metaphysical ecstasy descended from my throat.” And his grandmother opened the door to operatic happiness for him by telling him about Madama Butterfly, Puccini’s unfortunate, addictive music. His scrambled recording was only a prelude to a visit to the Princess Theater in Melbourne, where the singer’s voice “plays my eardrums, gets into my body and makes me dizzy”.

Boy understands: The theater is the perfect place for everything active

When the boy discovered the music of Gustav Mahler at the age of fifteen, the mysterious beginning of his first symphony, “56 bars of a deep chord tint in a low octave,” he suddenly awoke into a completely different world, because “a vast landscape suddenly appeared in, full of possibilities, with no beginning or end” . The ecstasy and horror of Mahler’s teenage seduction continues to amaze adults: “Who is the composer who brings a funeral march, a children’s song, and a fast Klezmer band on the same page of a symphony?” The emotional education The boy becomes artistically competent as he learns to understand Mahler’s play, his sense of “characters, scenes, dramatic encounters, light, sound direction”. He understands that theater is the perfect setting for everything active, the theater of “a chemical blend of manipulation, ritual and stimulation.”

Barry Kosky: On Ecstasy. Translated from the English by Ulrich Lenz. Verlag Der Zeit Theatre, Berlin 2021. 104 pages, €15.

Kosky simply had to discover Richard Wagner, “the master of theatrical fables.” He deciphered “The Flying Dutchman”, “Lohengrin”, “Tristan” and ended up with the largest imaginable, “Ring des Nibelungen” by Wagner, and thus in his present. Barry Kosky gave the title “More Ecstasy” to the last 20 pages of his book, unfortunately. For them, theater workaholics may lack the patience to write. He wrote Childhood Traps himself in 2007 and turned it into a book in Melbourne, and now has Ulrich Lenz, translated from English, asking some questions about the present.

The ecstasy in the office of the Berlin director Komische Oper is not updated, but there is certainly a rediscovery of the operas of the Weimar Republic. Wagner’s work was by no means ecstatic, but highly significant in Bayreuth, Kosky’s time, and the critical Nazi “Meistersinger.” And at least comparable to grandma’s chicken soup, a Japanese fun event, the 15-course menu in Tokyo – opera man with chopsticks.

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