Annette Schlünz: Tre Volti

Annette Schlünz: Tre Volti

Annette Schluenz's opera Tre Volti – Drei Blicke auf Liebe und Krieg based on a libretto by Ulrike Draesner was premiered on 28 April 2017 at the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele (stage director: Ingrid von Wantoch Rekowski, conductor: Arno Waschk).


Concerto Köln, Arno Waschk
Rokokotheater Schloss Schwetzingen
28.04.2017 (WP), 30.04.2017
commissioned by Schwetzinger Festspiele, 
financed by the Ernst von Siemens Musikstiftung

Schluenz Tre Volti

Three Questions for Annette Schlünz

TRE VOLTI: Three faces, three aspects, three turnings. How is a piece developed out of diverse creative sources?

AS: As a composer, I’m used to different artistic sources, not least through the performers of my works. But my encounter with Monteverdi in this context was really something special. Suddenly there was a third point of departure, a sort of foreign body coming from another time. It quickly became clear to Ulrike Draesner and me that we wanted to contrast the strongly masculine sphere of the Combattimento (Tasso/Monteverdi/Testo) with a feminine point of view, or even make possible a confrontation between these two worlds. But as is (unfortunately) so often the case, the various creative sources of this project wittered on for a long time before, happily, the Schwetzingen Festival decided to combine the sources into a single stream.

LOVE AND WAR: Claudio Monteverdi himself creates this analogy in the title of his Eighth Book of Madrigals, which includes Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda – it’s all about Eros and Combat. How does this analogy look nowadays, in a time of increasing virtualization and on a 21st-century music-theatre stage?

AS: When I think about instruments as I compose, I think at the same time about a specific person, a type. I mean that for me, musicians have just as strong a presence on the stage as singers, actors, dancers etc. and are by no means “unseen accompanists in the pit”. So, it was important to me that the five instrumental soloists for Tre Volti should be young men, generating a charged relationship with the wholly female vocal quartet. I’ve tried to incorporate the underlying erotic and combative tension between Tancredi and Clorinda in the score as a musical principle, not in the sense of an obvious narrative, but rather as a perceptible structural and gestural element. In my view, eroticism and violence cannot be represented naturalistically on stage. Instead it is our task to produce situations and images in which the imagination can roam freely and without limits. 

MUSIC THEATRE WITH MONTEVERDI: The physicist and Alternative Nobel Prize-winner Hans-Peter Dürr, asked, “How open is time?”, and he determined that “reality is revealed to us in a peculiar stratification of past and future, with the present as interface.” Does this mean that Claudio Monteverdi and Torquato Tasso are, in the historical sense, not far behind us but rather always above or below us in a kind of vertical time?

AS: In my understanding that’s true in any case. I always imagine that one exposes layers or removes them and, suddenly, the ostensibly old is incredibly close and current. When I’m inside St. Mark’s in Venice, for example, I immediately hear the soundscape of the Renaissance and intuitively understand why composers there wrote as they did. I also think it’s become necessary to question our academicism, which often prefers observing things chronologically to searching for meaningful, content-driven analogies. The historical is only one of many possible contexts, and, in my experience, whenever things are placed in a genuinely unfamiliar context, the senses of seeing and hearing, indeed all perception, is enriched, expanded, deepened and inspired. 

Excerpt from the world premiere's programm note. 
Published with the kind permission of the Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele.


Eßlinger Zeitung | 2. Mai 2017
„Draesner’s text is a jigsaw puzzle of slogans and parodistically amplified scraps of dialogue, and Annette Schlünz’s music responds to it with actions in chamber music scoring. The colour of an accordion, the change from chitarrone to electric guitar, brief forlorn clarinet and saxophone solos, sparingly deployed percussion and –  coming repeatedly in between, sometimes slightly distorted – the sounds of Monteverdi.“

Die ZEIT | 4. Mai 2017
„The uncertainty of our time is made audible in Annette Schlünz’s fastidiously transparent structures, in the call for closeness; and what Claudio Monteverdi brings to it is by no means the consolation of unshakable faith. His penetration of the language until it breaks apart like the lines of his narrator, the role of despair, the way each chord can sound like a step on a path just being created – all this becomes clearer than ever in the opposition and merging of the two musical languages.“

Süddeutsche Zeitung | 4. Mai 2017
„Annette Schlünz’s music is worked out with extreme precision, densely woven from small motifs. The composer favours an ascetic soundscape of delicate, tentative shreds of sonority that often have the effect of being dabbed into the space like pointillism.“

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | 4. Mai 2017
„Annette Schlünz’s score is correspondingly lean in the best sense of the word, without agglomerations like electronic equipment – a Baroque ensemble of four women’s voices and an occasionally slightly jazzy apparatus of wind, guitar and copious percussion. The writing is bright and supple but has its brusque surprises.“

Rhein-Neckar-Zeitung | 2. Mai 2017
„The score precisely maps out the highly complex propinquity of old and new music, of one’s own and that of others. The composer speaks of “windows” constantly opening and closing, directing the view to the outside or the inside.“

composer profile: Annette Schlünz

Photos: Elmar Witt