[T]he Ensemble Modern musicians [...] take on the function of a whispering chorus. They also speak [...] with their hands – in silent expression, the »espressivo« of the mutes.

Volker Milch, Wiesbadener Kurier

An intellectually highly charged game of attempts to communicate and mystification [...].

Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau

AGOTA? Die Analphabetin Gestern / Irgendwo

Vokalinstrumentales Melodram von Helmut Oehring

The search for identity in a strange world: this is the fundamental subject matter permeating the narratives of Hungarian author Ágota Kristóf, who lived in exile in French-speaking Switzerland from 1956 until her death in 2011. Experiencing her ›exiled language‹ as foreign until the end, this feeling of loss and the search for linguistic understanding became the very centre of Kristóf’s work. Self-taught musician and composer Helmut Oehring (born in East Berlin in 1961 to deaf parents) shares Kristóf’s misgivings about words as a communication method. For over 25 years his multiple award-winning stage works (including the 2015 German Music Author’s Prize) have explored the links and cross-sections between instrumental-vocal theatre and staged concerts, through the incorporation of poetic, documentary and auto/biographical content. In ›AGOTA?‹, Oehring and his team – librettist Stefanie Wördemann and sound designer Torsten Ottersberg – embark on a quest for identity, voice and language in the work of Ágota Kristóf, simultaneously exploring the full arsenal of possibilities that contemporary multimedia music theatre has to offer.

The role of AGOTA is embodied by award-winning stage, movie and TV actress Dagmar Manzel. In ›AGOTA?‹ she takes on a complex exchange with three soloists (who utilise their instruments as well as their voices) and the Ensemble Modern. Immersed in a dense sound sphere of voices, instruments and recorded playback, she narrates AGOTA’s memories, fantasies and her yearning for stability within a homeless world.

AGOTA