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Julian Rosefeldt directs his first opera, Faust

A portrait of the visual artist

Mon, May 30, 2022

Faust julian rosefeldt

1. My home is a dark and cloud-hung land - 2011

A man stands on a rock and looks out over a dense forested panorama. He turns his back to the viewer, so that the gaze is drawn even further into the landscape. Three treetops rise from the mist. There it is: the German forest. Poets and philosophers who dreamed of a German nation-state wandered here, as did their descendants who wanted to build that nation-state by force into a world empire. The German forest is a place of contradictions.

In this video installation on four screens appear different, sometimes contradictory perspectives on this German cultural heritage. But the monumental image compositions soon turn out to be fake: the morning mist comes from a fog machine like the ones you find in theaters. A few feet to the right, a prop sweeps the dust off a rock, and while a brass band rehearses, a backdrop of trees is erected on a stage in the woods.

In the video about his dark and cloudy homeland, Julian Rosefeldt uses music by... Robert Schumann! The bass voice of René Pape interprets Schumann's Waldeinsamkeit in a forest setting out of an opera.

Watch the video installation here

2. Manifesto - 2015

Rosefeldt undoubtedly achieved his greatest international success with the 2015 work Manifesto. In it, he rearranges and contextualizes famous manifestos from art history. Australian star actress Cate Blanchett interprets the resulting text collages in thirteen roles on as many screens, each time making the "artist's manifestos" tangible to the senses in unexpected ways. The work has already been shown in more than twenty museums and festivals around the world, and has become an international hit in the art world.

The moment that makes Manifesto unforgettable for many is also the central musical highlight. On each of the thirteen screens, Cate Blanchett's reading of the manifestos changes into a kind of monotonous chant, each time on a different pitch. The various screens are synchronized in such a way that the spoken words suddenly turn into music. A polyphonic choral song rises from the murmur, surrounding the visitors and filling the space.

3. In the Land of Drought - 2015/2017

In the Land of Drought

explores the relationship between humans and their influence on the world. The video looks back at the human impact on Earth from a fantasized future. An army of scientists appears to be conducting archaeological research on the remains of civilization after mankind wiped itself out. Shot entirely with a drone, Rosefeldt's images hover meditatively over the desolate landscape and ruins. More and more figures, dressed in white suits, emerge to inspect the ruins of civilization - in fact, abandoned film sets near Morocco's Atlas Mountains and deteriorated industrial zones from Germany's Ruhr region.

The video was shown for the first time in combination with a live performance of Haydn's Die Schöpfung ("The Creation"), with Collegium Vocale and B'Rock conducted by René Jacobs. Faust will also feature similar drone footage, and again Collegium Vocale will be on stage.

Curious what Julian Rosefeldt will do with Schumann's Faust?

Discover Faust

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