DRESDEN Kulturpalast: 4th June 2023
Dresdner Musikfestspiele


“The dramaturgically well thought-out use of video technology strengthened the impression of the concert. Finnish opera director Kristiina Helin used Schumann's introduction of The Magic Mirror to portray a different form of poetic reality. With her visual concept, Helin designed both a backdrop and a moving landscape or reflections of the mood of the title character. With the video animations set up by artist duo IC-98 Patrick Söderlund and Visa Suonpää, she created an impressive parallel to Schumann's sophisticated network of leitmotifs”.
Thomas Thielemann

6. Juni 2023Semperoper Dresden

Dresden: „Genoveva“, Robert Schumann

Der dramaturgisch durchdachte Einsatz von Video-Technik verstärkte den Eindruck des Konzertes. Schumanns Einführung des Zauberspiegels nutzte die finnische Opernregisseurin Kristiina Helin, um eine andere Form poetischer Realität darzustellen. Mit ihrem visuellen Konzept gestaltete Helin sowohl eine Kulisse, als auch bewegte Landschaft oder Reflexionen von Befindlichkeiten der Titelfigur. Mit den vom Künstler-Duo IC-98 Patrick Söderlund und Visa Suonpää eingerichteten Video-Animationen schuf sie eine beeindruckende Parallele zu Schumanns raffiniertem Leitmotivgeflecht.

Thomas Thielemann 6. Juni 2023

The 5 moving landscape portraits/Booklet 
On July 15th 2015 when looking out of a large window, strait to the Dutch fields, covered with thick fog, I experienced  a strange phenomena. Instead of me watching in to the landscape, the windmill and vague sunbeams pushing through the fog, it was as if the landscape was looking at me. I felt like a fish in an aquarium inside the house, being observed by the landscape. Then in a fleeting moment, I was sucked into the fields and became one with it.

In retrospective one could describe the happening as if the time had stopped and I was carried to a mystical void.
When I started to work with Genoveva, I was taken back to this experience, what I think now as my first truly meaningful shift in the consciousness. More I was studying Schumann’s life and compositions, more I gained courage to lean into the intuition. For a long time I was only “in waiting”.
When I saw the works of IC-98 I knew, this is it. I would have never  thought of black and white animated images. Animation traditionally has been for children. It is as if one would go backwards with the technology.  Also not using any color, the video was distancing itself, like in the old silent movies. I was intrigued and fascinated.
The slow movement and the feeling that the drawings are “standing in awareness” resonated exactly in the same place, where I experienced Schumann, music and thus, Genoveva.

Schumann is using a “magic” mirror as a pivot of the opera. Mirror as an object, indeed, is a powerful symbol, but it is not the object, nor the looking into it, but seeing the seeing itself, that makes the shift. A landscape is a mirror. Anything that appears to our vision can be looked at that way. This is when the distance between the object and the subject disappears. How and why this happens, is a mystery.
The works of IC-98 are offering us a possibility to look at, not only to the picture, but to the seeing. I’m using these animations as massive moving landscape portraits, where the same way as in Magritte’s painting the apple is painted to be a head.
The five works create the set design for the opera. The house can be seen as a building, where the drama is taking place, but it can also be seen in a Jungian way, the house being Genoveva herself. The ships, Siegfried on his way to the war abandoning the house and the ever streaming river, the continuation of time.
But one can experience the five works as totally independent meditative walls or Self reflecting mirrors. Like a dream, they do not ask anything but if carefully observed, they can work as a path to change the state of consciousness.

The five landscape portraits can also be looked at in their original context when, I feel, both the visual and the music is giving way to us, the artists to reflect to our time, the everyday life and history that is what else but mere alternated memory.
Kristiina Helin

Arnold Schoenberg Chor:
Knights, ecclesiastics, sguires, retainers, country people, apparitions

Carolyn Sampson, soprano (Genoveva)
Marcel Beekman, tenor (Golo)
Johannes Weisser, baritone (Siegfried)
Marie Seidler, soprano (Margareta)
Felix Speer, baritone (Hidulphus)
Cornelius Uhle, bass-baritone (Drago)
Marcell Krokovay, bass, (Balthasar)
Alexander Aigner, baritone (Caspar)
Valentin Trandafir, (Angelo)

Visual concept: Kristiina Helin, collaboration with
IC-98 Visa Suonpää, Patrik Södrerlund
Stage director and Costumes: Kristiina Helin

Schumann’s only opera is heard for the first time on 19th century period instruments. Visual dramatization by Kristiina Helin seeks to capture and enhance the spirit of Schumann’s vision of a truly epic opera actually impossible for traditional staging. Using sophisticated lights and video technology, in addition to carefully conducted slow-motion ‘moving portrait’ technique of the vocal forces, the performance creates an ineffable multi-arts experience hard to describe in traditional terminology. The mirror in which one beholds one’s own self, past and present, that is at the centre
of Schumann’s unique concept, becomes an ageless moral force of terrifying transformative power.



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