新着情報
2004/11/01
Schumann Festival 2004
Tonhalle Concert Hall
Düsseldorf
Press-reviews of "Paradise and the Peri", multi-media-installation by Gottfried Helnwein and Gregor Seyffert.
BREATH TAKING STAGE VERSION AT DÜSSELDORF CONCERT HALL
Dance icon Gregor Seyffert, and Gottfried Helnwein, internationally renowned artist and stage designer, came up with a highly intelligent concept for the oratorio, which relied heavily on dance, but also comprised whatever means a modern, multimedia stage design might offer. Consequently, the audience’s eyes almost popped out of their heads. With all the media activities, one might almost forget the enchanting, beautiful music, and singing. Storming, unceasing applause by an enthusiastic Düsseldorf audience for an evening which is unlikely to be easily forgotten. This was an example of lively music theatre, which, unchallenged, not only stole the glory of Deutsche Oper am Rhein, which presently enjoys a period of profound hibernation, but proved that Düsseldorf may well offer first class art. Why not more often? (Peter Bilsing)
Das Paradies und die Peri
2004
Selected Press Reviews
(excerpts)
BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS
Welt am SONNTAG, 11th July 2004
.
Artistic Schumann Festival
Rheinische Post, 12th July 2004
.
Heaven cannot wait
Westdeutsche Zeitung, 12th July 2004
.
By Trapeze to Paradise
NRZ, 12th July 2004
.
Robert Schumann: „Paradise and the Peri“
koeglerjournal 2003/2004, 11th July 2004
.

BREATH TAKING STAGE VERSION AT DÜSSELDORF CONCERT HALL
Der Opernfreund / Der Merker, 10th July 2004
Premiere: 9 July, 2004
Scene from the video
2004
Press Release
Gregor Seyffert in Los Angeles
Los Angeles/Berlin, July 2004
The project was filmed at the studio of the painter and performance artist Gottfried Helnwein, who works as the costume and stage designer for this production and is also the artistic director of the film production.
Seyffert and Helnwein were overjoyed to co-operate with cameraman Robert Brinkmann, who is famous for his co-operation with Roger Every, co-author of Quentin Tarantino, in America and Europe.
In the beginning of June, Gregor Seyffert filmed his most recent production "Paradise and the Peri". in Los Angeles. The production also included two students of the State Ballet School Berlin, of which Gregor Seyffert has been the artistic director for the last two years.
Gregor Seyffert is the artistic director of the project and overall director of the video production, and has always dreamed of using film in a large scale format. The film sequences shot in Hollywood were meant to be shown as part of the performance of "Paradise and the Peri" at Duesseldorf concert hall.
The project was filmed at the studio of the painter and performance artist Gottfried Helnwein, who works as the costume and stage designer for this production and is also the artistic director of the film production.
Seyffert and Helnwein were overjoyed to co-operate with cameraman Robert Brinkmann, who is famous for his co-operation with Roger Every, co-author of Quentin Tarantino, in America and Europe.
Gregor Seyffert's ravishing full-length work "Paradise and the Peri", which cuts across art genres, turned out to be the spectacular highlight of this year's Schumann festival in Duesseldorf on 9 July 2004. It included the Duesseldorf Symphonic Orchestra, conducted by John Fiore, and the 120 strong choir of the Staedtischer Musikverein Duesseldorf, , plus leading ballet soloists of Deutsche Oper Berlin, renowned guest artists, distinguished international acrobats and representatives from the martial arts' community as well as students of the Berlin State Ballett School.
In addition to being the Artistic Director of the production, Gregor Seyffert also danced, acted and played the part of the Peri, an angel which was banned from paradise.
There is an abundance of spectacular photographs by Gottfried Helnwein available. For further information contact the press and production office of Thomas Guggi,
Phone: +49 30 442 63 53, E-mail: TGuggi@t-online.de.
Das Paradies und die Peri
2004
BLOOD, SWEAT AND TEARS
WELT am SONNTAG, 11th July 2004
The Düsseldorf Schumann Festival dares to embark on a new beginning. Gottfried Helnwein illustrates the Oratorio “Paradise and the Peri” with his fantasies.
Seyffert as the portrayer of the androgynous. And, even clearer, Gottfried Helwein. He lived out his fantasies of blood and bandages in his films, which were shown on large format video screens. Having to deal with Schumann’s exalted oratorio and its Nazarene qualities, he presumably felt perfectly at home like in his Catholic childhood. The mystery spectacle pushed the soloists, some of them first-class singers, a little bit into the background. However, with this work of Schumann’s, this might even have been the wiser choice.
After four years of silence the time had come: These days, The 8th Schumann Festival is taking place, and it may be seen as a real test. Will it come off or not? In the first place, this is an artistic question. However, in the case of festivals of this level, there is also the financial side to it.
Presumably, the Düsseldorf performance of “Paradise and the Peri” will not be able to achieve a full rehabilitation of the work. But still it turned out to be a successful approach. The dancer and choreographer Gregor Seyffert and the Austrian all-round artist Gottfried Helnwein hung a huge ring into the dome of Düsseldorf Concert Hall, which looks like an aura of saintliness out of proportion to the vast dimension, or an advent’s wreath without needles. Up there, five dancers were performing acrobatics, floating up and down on steel ropes. With their white leather hats, they looked like a godly parachute unit at formation jumping. Down on earth, the Peri was struggling to be accepted into this suicide mission. Gregor Seyffert certainly looked like an overexposed Marylin Manson. Instead, the angels crashed down several times. People with fragile nerves had better close their eyes in time. Yet this staging of the Oratorio was more than an acrobatic trifle. Both artists used the 150 year-old piece for their own aesthetic approach.
By Andreas Fasel
Artistic Schumann Festival
Rheinische Post, 12th July 2004
There was simply too much to be seen, while Schumann’s music, which does not offer too many loud gestures anyway, was basically turned into a beautiful sound carpet for unfolding stunning images.
“An oratorio, not for a prayer-hall, but for hilarious people”, this is how Robert Schumann described “Paradise and the Peri”. It is an oriental fairy tale about salvation and tells of the suffering and salvation of a Peri. This already seems to invite a going against rigid forms in a hilarious way and turn a traditional concert recital into an event. “A staged Oratorio”, read the souvenir programme of the 8th Schumann Festival in Düsseldorf, and the highlight of the prestigious festival it should turn out to be.
A successful experiment
The enthusiastic applause at the end of the spectacle ought to have considerably relieved the festival direction of its tension. It had taken a number of risks, one of the major ones being the conversion of the Tonhalle concert hall without being sure whether the space might actually be suited to it. The experiment came off, even though the patient, Schumann’s Oratorio, was not too much touched upon by this spectacle of dance, acrobatics, and video film in its essence.
Director Gregor Seyffert decided against the singers’ acting, and had them sing like in a concert oratorio. The fabulous singers of the music association, too, had to stay where they are usually to be found, i.e., behind the orchestra. All wore costumes and small hats not unlike bikers in the twenties, alternating between black, red and white, and had their faces painted. Even part of the orchestra wore hats, and John Fiore certainly wore his with stoicism...
There was simply too much to be seen, while Schumann’s music, which does not offer too many loud gestures anyway, was basically turned into a beautiful sound carpet for unfolding
stunning images. Thus the outstanding soloists, too, were relegated to be mere sound providers.
Jörg Waschinski’s soprano created an interesting parallel to the embodiment of the title role. And Markus Schäfer’s glamorous tenor as the story-teller must be praised just as well as Alison Browner’s hearty mezzo soprano and Anke Krabbe’s very clear ‘virgin’ soprano. A sensitive Fiore gave Schumann’s Oratorio kid glove treatment and elicited enchanting lyrical sounds from the Symphoniker Orchestra. Much applause for all involved.
By Regine Müller
Heaven cannot wait
Westdeutsche Zeitung, 12th July 2004
Gregor Seyffert, Gottfried Helnwein and Düsseldorfer Symphoniker Orchestra stage Schumann’s Oratorio “Paradise and the Peri” at Düsseldorf Tonhalle Concert Hall.
Seyffert also danced the Peri, and artist Gottfried Helnwein commented upon the action with powerful, sometimes disturbing images.
Düsseldorf. Seen from a musical perspective, the Peri ascends to Heaven, to become an integral part of it, to the accompaniment of a jubilant choir. As regards the staging of the scene, this creature, which strayed between Heaven and Earth, hangs motionless in the air. After the last chord had been struck, the Peri dashed to the floor again. The dancer and choreographer Gregor Seyffert visualised an atheist reading of the fairy tale “Paradise and the Peri” which had been turned into an Oratorio by Robert Schumann. The story of the sinning child, which is only accepted with the ‘skies dearest tribute’ into Paradise, goes back to “Lalla Rookh” by Thomas Moore (1779-1852). It focuses on the phenomenon of true repentance, and the tears that go with it.
These tears are the Peri’s ticket into paradise. While the Düsseldorfer Symphoniker Orchestra, the municipal music association of Düsseldorf and a number of soloists conducted by musical director John Fiore rendered a decent performance, Seyffert, who also danced the Peri, and artist Gottfried Hellwein commented upon the action with powerful, sometimes disturbing images.
The concert hall’s dome served as Heaven, whereas the auditorium was changed into a human stage. An illuminated white ring served as a cloud’s hole and gateway to Heaven, the sides of which were guarded by angels. Behind the choir, a video screen showed Helwein’s stylised, partly surreal images. There was blood flowing, running or splashing, yet not like in a massacre, but as an abstract red liquid. It also spilled out of the children’s mouths on being united in a kiss.
All this was thrilling and exciting, but it also brought a lot of superficial restlessness with it. The choreographic comment prevented any chance of inner contemplation. Some parts of the event resulted in involuntary comedy and endangered the symbolic construction, which had a considerable height of fall. More often than not, some of the sound effects cut through the music. Irrespective of this, the production turned out to be exciting throughout.
As the Peri, Seyffert gave vivid expression to a suffering creation and its eternal search. But even the final salvation seemed to be questioned here. When the Peri’s transfigured body hang motionless from a steel rope while the choir was in jubilation and the audience frantically applauding, this undoubtedly created an effect of uneasiness. The very well prepared Düsseldorf music association has to be praised. It fulfilled both its vocal and performance tasks in a sovereign manner. John Fiore and his orchestra, too, created suspense.
Among the soloists, many glamorous voices shone. Soprano Jörg Waschinksi as the Peri was a stunning male soprano with a very feminine effect, yet during the big female part, he sounded like an overstrained female singer. A highlight in terms of voices certainly was the mezzo soprano singer Alison Browner as the angel.

By Lars Wallerang
Paradise and the Peri
2004
By Trapeze to Paradise
NRZ, 12th July 2004
Tonhalle Concert Hall, Highlight of the Schumann Festival: a scenic version of “Paradise and the Peri”
Star dancer Gregor Seyffert and Gottfried Helnwein created a mystical circus spectacle about the stony way to eternity, thereby turning the Tonhalle Concert hall into an opera arena. This suited the original, for as early as in 1841 Schumann was looking for a story for an opera, but then went on to compose a worldly Oratorio. However, it was meant ‘not for praying, but for hilarious people’.
The production was dramatically suggestive, spectacular and certainly not boring for a second. This was guaranteed not only by the bodily presence and expressiveness of one of the world’s most extraordinary dancers, who in his early forties continues to combine acrobatic and athletic powers with an elf-like flexibility. This was enhanced through sometimes, trashy effects and video installations of the famous and notorious painter of children, Gottfried Helnwein.
He illustrated the stations on the Peri’s way to Paradise on a huge screen. There was blood flowing in geometrical patterns over a white canvas, an unceasing rain of tears, and the kiss of two children with ash grey hair. This might have been meant to be symbolic, or surrealist, but also seemed alienating, at least a far cry from Schumann.
The Peri hangs exhausted in Heaven. After three attempts to please the heavenly hosts, the aerial spirit finally makes it. As had to be expected, a jubilant choir started to sing, but apparently the tests which the guardians of the gate way to Heaven had asked their brother or sister to pass had been too difficult. Gregor Seyffert interpreted Schumann’s oratorio “Paradise and the Peri” with scepticism, if not pessimism, at least not with as conciliatory tones as in the original. He staged it for the first time as the highlight of the Schumann Festival at Düsseldorfer Tonhalle Concert Hall.
Star dancer Gregor Seyffert and Gottfried Helnwein created a mystical circus spectacle about the stony way to eternity, thereby turning the Tonhalle Concert hall into an opera arena. This suited the original, for as early as in 1841 Schumann was looking for a story for an opera, but then went on to compose a worldly Oratorio. However, it was meant ‘not for praying, but for hilarious people’.
Angels in the dome
The production was dramatically suggestive, spectacular and certainly not boring for a second. This was guaranteed not only by the bodily presence and expressiveness of one of the world’s most extraordinary dancers, who in his early forties continues to combine acrobatic and athletic powers with an elf-like flexibility. This was enhanced through sometimes, trashy effects and video installations of the famous and notorious painter of children, Gottfried Helnwein.
He illustrated the stations on the Peri’s way to Paradise on a huge screen. There was blood flowing in geometrical patterns over a white canvas, an unceasing rain of tears, and the kiss of two children with ash grey hair. This might have been meant to be symbolic, or surrealist, but also seemed alienating, at least a far cry from Schumann.
Singers remained invisible

With their masks and turbans, the singers remained invisible. Jörg Waschinski (soprano) as the Peri enchanted with his timbre, intonation, easiness and attack and excellently suited the romantic oratorio drama. The tenor Markus Schäfer as the story-teller,
soprano Anke Krabbe as the virgin and mezzo soprano Alison Browner as the angel with their finely intonated voices came nearest to a traditional Schumann sound.
Musicians behind masks
Worthy of Schumann’s, fascinating and transparent were also the orchestra and the singers of the municipal music association. Why, however, musicians, the choir and conductor John Fiore did have to wear masks and black, red and white grail garments, is for the Gods to know. Unfortunately, they are known to remain silent.
By Michael-Georg Müller
Robert Schumann: „Paradise and the Peri“
koeglerjournal 2003/2004, 11th July 2004
The work was staged again in the framework of the Düsseldorf Schumann Festival 2004 at Düsseldorf Tonhalle Concert Hall in a scenic version of vast dimensions. It was realised in a collaboration of Gregor Seyffert and Gottfried Helnwein, who was responsible for the stage setting, costumes, films and masks. The gigantic event included a huge choir, a number of soloists, singers, dancers and aerial acrobats, as well as Seyffert himself as the Peri, which originally is a soprano part and was sung by Jörg Waschinski here. It clearly impressed the audience though on the one hand, charming music, and on the other hand, the way it was staged. For most of the time, the scene was set in the air with five angels hanging on elastic ropes.
Two years after the Willis had made their debut on the ballet stage in “Giselle”, they were followed by, well, not exactly sisters, but rather, first cousins from the Orient called Peris in 1843. These aerial creatures came twofold: first in a ballet called “La Peri” based on a libretto by Théophile Gautier and choreographed by Jean Coralli to a music by Friedrich Bergmüller. It was shown at the Paris opera starring Carlotta Grisi and Lucien Petipa. Almost at the same time, they appeared in Robert Schumann’s Oratorio “Paradise and the Peri”, which consisted of three parts, and was premiered at Leipzig Gewandhaus Concert Hall. Both works, which share nothing but the title heroine, were very popular in the 19th century. The ballet was lost, but who knows whether it will not be rediscovered one day by Pierre Lacotte. Today it exists in a totally different form to music by Paul Dukas. It was choreographed for the first time for Paris as well by Ivan Clustine in 1912.
In contrast, Schumann’s Oratorio is a rather rare occurrence today. At thirty three years of age, he considered it to be very important. Its structure is reminiscent of song, it is very lyrical, and there are no recitatives. It is an ‘Oratorio not for a praying-hall, but for hilarious people’. It tells the story of one of these creatures who, after having failed, is forced to leave Paradise and now waste away with longing for the celestial home. An angel promises her that she might return after having found ‘Heaven’s dearest tribute’. Three times she sets out to search for it, and in doing so, meets a brave young man dying in a battlefield and a bride who shares the death of her beloved. But only the remorseful tear of a repentant sinner convinces her heavenly companions, who allow the Peri back into their circle again. Now the work was staged again in the framework of the Düsseldorf Schumann Festival 2004 at Düsseldorf Tonhalle Concert Hall in a scenic version of vast dimensions. It was realised in a collaboration of Gregor Seyffert and Gottfried Helnwein, who was responsible for the stage setting, costumes, films and masks. The gigantic event included a huge choir, a number of soloists, singers, dancers and aerial acrobats, as well as Seyffert himself as the Peri, which originally is a soprano part and was sung by Jörg Waschinski here. It clearly impressed the audience though on the one hand, charming music, and on the other hand, the way it was staged. For most of the time, the scene was set in the air with five angels hanging on elastic ropes.
Seyffert, too, hung on a rope, flung from the dome, was hurled up again and again thereby performed the most stunning caprioles. Helnwein’s costumes turned him into an androgynous being. In the beginning, he wore super pointed shoes which would have been the envy of all the ballerinas in the world. Unfortunately, it was impossible to stand in them.
This was a marathon part, which Seyffert sustained for more than a hundred minutes. Among the other dancers were Swen Ruschka as the young man, Peter Luppa as a gruesome general, a very expressive Raimondo Rebeck as a young man struck by the plague, Heike Keller as the virgin and Goyo Montero as a man. The whole show was highly spectacular because of its aerial and ground choreographies. Thinking of similar scenes during the revues of Berlin’s Friedrichstadtpalast, however, I can very well imagine the aerial parts to be choreographed with even more imagination. In any case it was a truly worthwhile encounter, which was overwhelming with its rich music and lavish stage effects. It really spoke for the young Schumann, and for a touring company of the times of the Circus à la Max Reinhardt. This, however, will be prevented by the immense costs involved. Reading the almost unending cast list however, I missed a proof of a technical insurance certificate.
Horst Koegler
BREATH TAKING STAGE VERSION AT DÜSSELDORF CONCERT HALL
Der Opernfreund / Der Merker, 10th July 2004
Premiere: 9 July, 2004
Dance icon Gregor Seyffert, and Gottfried Helnwein, internationally renowned artist and stage designer, came up with a highly intelligent concept for the oratorio, which relied heavily on dance, but also comprised whatever means a modern, multimedia stage design might offer. Consequently, the audience’s eyes almost popped out of their heads. With all the media activities, one might almost forget the enchanting, beautiful music, and singing.
With more than 500 people involved, it is impossible to mention the names of all who contributed to this unique Gesamtkunstwerk. Yet beside the gorgeous soloists Jörg Waschinski (Peri), Markus Schäfer (story-teller), Alison Browner (angel), Anke Krabbe (virgin), Andreas Post (young man), Raimund Nolte (Mann), Karl Petersen (Gazna), Theresa Kronthaler and Anja-Nina Bahrmann, the precise playing of The Düsseldorf Symphoniker Orchestra and the bravura achievements of the municipal music association, musical director John Fiore must be especially hailed. He is the man who kept this extremely complex music and stage event together with total command and gigantic commitment. Artistically speaking, he made the production one of the most successful evenings in the history of the Tonhalle Concert Hall, and in the history of staging this work.
Storming, unceasing applause by an enthusiastic Düsseldorf audience for an evening which is unlikely to be easily forgotten. This was an example of lively music theatre, which, unchallenged, not only stole the glory of Deutsche Oper am Rhein, which presently enjoys a period of profound hibernation, but proved that Düsseldorf may well offer first class art. Why not more often?
When Robert Schumann spoke of his ‘greatest and best work’, he was referring to his Œuvre “Paradise and the Peri”. The poem for solo voices, choir and orchestra was premiered at Leipzig Gewandhaus Concert Hall on 4 December, 1843. To the composer, it was a kind of opera-oratorio. Schumann envisaged a ‘new genre for the concert hall’, which is difficult to define in formal terms. What emerged was a gigantic work transcending through traditional art genres, yet without a clear separation of recitatives and arias, in which song, however, does play a substantial part.
The ‘read thread’ to connect the 26 numbers of “Paradise and the Peri” is controlled by the choir in most of the cases, which fulfils an extraordinary variety of functions. It may comment upon situations and the atmosphere, share the grief in a lamento, burst into celestial praise, and finally ends the work with a sacred ‘how delightful, oh, what bliss’.
Schumann surprised his audience with new sound colours. He used valve trumpets, ophykleides, i.e. predecessors of bass tubas, as well as harps, and won his audiences through enhancing the percussion instruments by cymbals, drums and triangles. This resulted in so far unheard of sound dimensions of a depth which bordered on Wagner’s “Parsival”.
Text and story go back to the oriental poem “Lallah Rookh” by Thomas Moore. Especially its second part tells of a Peri, an elf-like fairy. In short, the story goes like this: A Peri is promised to be allowed to return to Paradise if she procures what is dearest to Heaven. She tries the last drop of blood of a young man fighting for his threatened country, and the last breath of a maiden who sacrifices herself for her lover, who had fallen victim to the plague. But only the remorseful tears from a sworn sinner shed in view of a young boy at play and prayer open the gateway to Heaven for her again.
The rather worldly Oratorio indeed has the impetus of a romantic opera. It has been shunned or neglected by cultural authorities for more than a century, which undoubtedly not only has to be attributed to the vast dimensions of the work, but also to the difficulties encountered when it comes to conveying the meaning of a fairy tale like this theses days. Added to this, there is a “Third Reich” history to it, which implied a weird popularity and reinterpretation of the work. For the 8th International Schumann Festival, a congenial team was brought together to realise a complete stage version at the old, dignified Tonhalle Concert Hall.
Gregor Seyffert, a dance icon loaded with praise, and Gottfried Helnwein, an internationally renowned artist and stage designer, came up with a highly intelligent concept for the oratorio, which relied heavily on dance, but also comprised whatever means a modern, multimedia stage design might offer. Consequently, the audience’s eyes almost popped out of their heads. What with all the media activities, one might almost forget the enchanting, beautiful music, and singing.
The artists really pulled out all the stops. This included film (a huge screen behind the choir), breathtaking rope acrobatics, other acrobatic feats including the State Circus School of Kiev, and a stunning lighting design by R. Wenzel, which comprised fire, water, and smoke effects. All this formed part of an almost magic air-to-ground choreography by I. German, G. Montero, and G. Seyffert, and provides for a fabulous music theatre event. Again and again, there was Gregor Seyffert, who as the Peri exceeded all dimensions of modern dance theatre. He flew, sailed, tumbled, fell and danced. This was movement with an almost self-effacing authenticity. Seyffert carried the emotions of this shining figure of hope into the bright dome of the Tonhalle Concert Hall, and slid almost weightlessly like a feather to the breathtaking sounds of Schumann.
With more than 500 people involved, it is impossible to mention the names of all who contributed to this unique Gesamtkunstwerk. Yet beside the gorgeous soloists Jörg Waschinski (Peri), Markus Schäfer (story-teller), Alison Browner (angel), Anke Krabbe (virgin), Andreas Post (young man), Raimund Nolte (Mann), Karl Petersen (Gazna), Theresa Kronthaler and Anja-Nina Bahrmann, the precise playing of The Düsseldorf Symphoniker Orchestra and the bravura achievements of the municipal music association, musical director John Fiore must be especially hailed. He is the man who kept this extremely complex music and stage event together with total command and gigantic commitment. Artistically speaking, he made the production one of the most successful evenings in the history of the Tonhalle Concert Hall, and in the history of staging this work.
Storming, unceasing applause by an enthusiastic Düsseldorf audience for an evening which is unlikely to be easily forgotten. This was an example of lively music theatre, which, unchallenged, not only stole the glory of Deutsche Oper am Rhein, which presently enjoys a period of profound hibernation, but proved that Düsseldorf may well offer first class art. Why not more often?
Peter Bilsing
Video shoot for "Paradies und die Peri"
2004
On the set for "Das Paradies und die Peri"
2004




トップに戻る