Der goldene Drache
Musiktheater von Peter Eötvös. Libretto von Roland Schimmelpfennig nach dem gleichnamigen Theaterstück
The Hungarian composer and conductor Peter Eötvös, one of the most sought-after performers and connoisseurs of 20th and 21st century music and a friend of the Ensemble Modern since the early 1980s, has been in discussion with the Ensemble Modern and the Frankfurt Opera about a joint musical theatre production for quite a while. The chosen literary model, ›Der Goldene Drache‹ (›The Golden Dragon‹) by Roland Schimmelpfennig – one of the most frequently performed playwrights in Germany – won the Mühlheim Theatre Prize after its premiere at Vienna’s Burgtheater in 2009, was invited to the Berlin Theatre Meeting in 2010 and named Play of the Year by the critics polled by the journal ›Theater Heute‹.
At the centre of the action is the Chinese-Vietnamese-Thai convenience restaurant ›Der Goldene Drache‹. In the restaurant’s tiny kitchen, a young Chinese man suffers from a terrible toothache. Since he is in the country illegally, seeing a dentist is out of the question. Thus, the other cooks use a wrench and attempt to master the art of tooth-pulling: the young Chinese bleeds to death, the extracted incisor lands in the wok, then in the Thai soup and finally in the mouth of a stewardess, a regular customer at the convenience restaurant, which feeds most of the neighbourhood with its Asian take-away dishes. The stewardess leaves the restaurant, throwing the tooth into the river, in which the dead Chinese, wrapped in a carpet festooned with dragons, is embarking upon a long journey at the same time.
This simple action is interwoven, almost merged with the fable of the industrious ant and the cheerful but lazy cricket. The cricket has sung all summer long and did not worry about the impending winter. She seeks shelter with the industriously prepared ant, and has to provide entertainment in return for her keep. Schimmelpfennig sharpens the moral tone: the cricket is forced into prostitution by the enterprising ant and is abused by the other ants, without noticing that spring has long begun again.