Arnulf Herrmanns Musiktheaterwerk auf ein Libretto von Nico Bleutge
›Wasser‹ (Water) is the title of the first musical theatre work by the Berlin-based composer Arnulf Herrmann, setting a libretto by Nico Bleutge. It was directed by Florentine Klepper.
The work tells a story which oscillates fluidly between experience and dream: A man awakes disoriented in his hotel room. In the lobby he walks into a soirée of some sort. He feels he ought to know the people there, but memory fails him. Everything seems strangely askew and out of place, even the music. It comes from a record that is not centred, and therefore emits peculiarly distorted correlations. He believes that he has seen the woman he asks to dance before, but he doesn’t recognize her. Is his dead lover appearing to him? They meet several times, but the closeness they try to achieve fails. It transforms into growing distance that in the end cannot be breached. Everything that seems within grasp flows out of shape, and the entire scenario disappears.
Arnulf Herrmann has not set a rigid libretto to music; his sound world and Nico Bleutge’s poetry – which has parallels to the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice – come into being in a process of mutual stimulation. The composer gave each scene its own sound world, its own text-music relationship, own structure and form. Three scenes appear more than once but are different, distorted, in a state of suspense between identity and difference. Some scenes follow, musically, the principle of rotation, as if searching for memories. Others develop in a definite direction. In the end connections and identity dissolve. The metaphor for all this is water, an element that hides much, leaves much to be guessed at but gives nothing away.