Jan Dvořák: WP of Frankenstein

Jan Dvořák: WP of Frankenstein

200 years after the young English writer Mary Shelley awakened the science-fiction genre to life in 1818 with her novel Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, Jan Dvořák has adapted the story in an extraordinary music-theatre format. This “Gothic opera”, staged by film and opera director Philipp Stölzl (Der Medicus, Goethe!), will have its world premiere on 20 May 2018 at Kampnagel K6 under the musical direction of Johannes Harneit.

Frankenstein (2017)
A Gothic Opera in 4 acts
after Mary Shelley
3puppet players – S.T.2Bar.BBar.Child – chr –
cl/ pf.2perc.e-gtr.str.db
(classical and jazz, amplified) – foley artist
Duration: 150'
WP: 20.05.2018, Hamburg

About the work

A monster as opera protagonist? The nameless, maltreated creature on the road to evil takes centre stage in Jan Dvořák’s Frankenstein. Closely based on Mary Shelley’s classic book, the opera fol-lows creator and creature from Ingolstadt to the Arctic Circle. Frankenstein is a Singspiel, a road movie and a meditation on the impossibility of undoing something an innovation. May Shelley’s Frankenstein was a great success. The 20-year-old author managed in her epistolary first novel to deal with, among other topics, science, progress, love, family, justice, emancipation and atheism. The story was published anonymously so that no one at the time would imagine such a work to have been written by a young woman. Most of the film versions reduce the book to little more than a silly horror story.

From the plot’s abundant strands, Jan Dvořák and his collaborator, the film and opera director Philipp Stölzl, have chosen the Monster’s perspective. The libretto traces the course of its development from a gigantic but helpless toddler to a loving out-cast and, finally, a murderer and Frankenstein’s intellectually brilliant adversary; implicitly, it poses the question of the “other” and its rejection by society. While the people in this opera mostly sing, the words of the Monster, represented by a larger-than-life-sized puppet, are spoken by an actress off-stage. Revelling in the sound of B movies and great histrionic freedom for the singers, Jan Dvořák takes another step along his path between avant-garde and adventure. The piece is scored for a chamber orchestra without chorus and is thus suitable for smaller venues unafraid of tackling the really big issues.

Photo: Philipp Stölzl/Basel