PARSIFAL, an experimental opera-installation, is a work in progress with different performance concepts, each one with a particular focus and artistic design.
The Prologue and First Act were created in the partially destroyed architecture of the old Festspielhaus Hellerau in Dresden, East Germany, where a group of artists founded a utopian art colony in 1911, which was to be dedicated to modern dance, music-theatre, and the new futurist visual art. Abandoned shortly after World war I, the site was later occupied by the Nazis and then by the Soviet Army. Act I of PARSIFAL is designed as a site-specific acoustic installation and architectural choreography, in 14 different rooms of the dilapidated Festspiel-Theater complex. The prologue is created as a dance solo (choreographed by Imma Sarries-Zgonc) in front of the Festspielhaus-facade modified by Jo Siamon Salich, and performed to a sonic transformation of Wagner's PARSIFAL overture (created by JS Salich). Johannes Birringer, Imma Sarries-Zgonc (AlienNation Co.,Chicago), and the members of RU-IN (Dresden) created the acoustic and visual installation and a cycle of 14 performance actions which were also transmitted via film projectors from the 14 rooms of the East Wing into the centrally located foyer of the destroyed auditorium.
Imma Sarries-Zgonc, Prolog outside of the Hellerau Festspielhaus
The focus of the installation-performance is the slow and deliberate decomposition of the Wagnerian myth of the grail/redemption in the modified architecture of German ruins. While working in the collective process, each of the performing artists individually examines her/his associations with the contaminated site and the terminal condition of a dead myth and its psychopathology. The actions unfold in a time after the end of opera, when the silence has finally settled in and the brotherhood of gods disappeared. There is no pretense that the spilling of blood purifies; there are no more communal rituals. In its de-ritualized, non-operatic form, this performance raises some hard questions about bloodletting, infected blood, failing immune systems and ethnic cleansing.
The Second Phase, prepared for the Cleveland Performance Art Festival, adapts visual motifs from Reinaldo Arenas's autobiography (Before Night Falls) and is designed as a dance installation addressing contemporary myths of sexual perversion and masochism. An independent, new musical score is created (live mix), together with a silent film and a performance-scenography which involves 3 dancers/actors.
The Third Phase of PARSIFAL will be created in Cuba in 1999, in a collaboration with the theatre group La Jaula Abierta and visual artist Tania Bruguera. This stage of the production will relocate the Christian mythology of our theme into an Afro-Cuban context and into a confrontation with the revolutionary experience of the people of a former colony. It will be the last stage in the deconstruction of a European myth and its racist ideology, and open towards a new exploration of the significance of utopian ideas and practices at the end of the century.