2006, Tue, May 09 and 2006, Wed, May 10

Fantasy of the Red Queen

An opera by Liu Sola

A gesture of the Chinese Opera. Its meaning: Mild surprise. | Copyright: Lu Yue

A gesture of the Chinese Opera. Its meaning: Mild surprise. | Copyright: Lu Yue

A production commissioned by the House of World Cultures in co-operation with the Ensemble Modern

Conductor: Johannes Kalitzke

A game about the power of illusion and the illusion of power. Composer Liu Sola stage-manages politics in the form of a grand delusion. An old lady, sick and confused, merges in her fantasy world with Jiang Qing, the fourth wife of Mao Zedong, and the leader of the ‘Gang of Four’, the notorious ‘headquarters’ of the Cultural Revolution. Through a video wall, she sees both herself and scenes from Jian Qing’s life as a young actress in Shanghai; as Mao’s wife; and as the ‘Red Queen’ at the height of the Cultural Revolution. However, the Red Guards of the time have now given way to the guardians of a new social order based on mobile phones, the globalised world of the commodity, and flavour enhancers. Sitting on her hospital bed, the ‘Red Queen’ engages in discussion with the devil about the relationship between power and tradition…Liu Sola’s score deliberately avoids musical purism. Instead the music arises in a process of composition and decomposition. Motifs from revolutionary songs, Shanghai pop, 1930s jazz, ‘revolutionary tango’, traditional Chinese opera, Chinese hip-hop as well as classical and contemporary western music are juxtaposed to form a sound collage. The members of the Ensemble Modern also serve as security officers. The instrumentalists from China play the part of the hospital staff. Here, too, roles merge. And finally the Communist queen emerges, as if from a real historical event, from the completely black-and-white stage set, dressed in the glowing red robe of the ‘Red Queen’.