A show against the indifference of the universe for 14 musicians, six singers, electronics, 3D-Sound
For many centuries, melancholy was interpreted in various and often contradictory ways. It has been regarded as a physical illness as well as a moment of contemplation, as a possibility of overcoming earthly suffering, and as a sister of ingenuity. The puzzling polyhedron in Albrecht Dürer’s famous copperplate engraving Melencolia I has become a symbol for the unsolvable amidst the human desire for salvation and the rational demystification of the world.
In MELENCOLIA by Muntendorf/Lobeck, Dürer’s polyhedron is found in a melancholic playground, in a place that seems lost to our hyper-stimulated fatigue societies and the new, colonized digital lifeworlds. In a liberated and playful yet strict way, the music theatre deals with stereotypes from the Renaissance, Romanticism, pop and kitsch, searching for the liberating melancholic mood.
14 instrumental soloists of the Ensemble Modern encounter virtual guests such as the Iranian Ney-Anban virtuoso Saeid Shanbehzadeh or their own digital twins in 3D audio landscapes. Artificial intelligences and synthetically cloned voices encounter digital visual worlds and bizarre parallel existences, an incessant stream of instrumental and electronic music leads the audience into familiar as well as surreal audio spaces.In the midst of our rationally demystified world, MELENCOLIA celebrates a musical show against the indifference of the universe.
In the specific use of 3D soundscape, the sound sources are not only freely positioned in space, but also sound phenomena in the field of acoustic or spatial perception are explored: What does a chord sound like from the inside? What happens with the acoustic space when the amplified sound detaches from the acoustic and becomes independent? How real can an absent soloist appear in 3D sound and play together with the present musicians?
An app is being developed for MELENCOLIA that enables interaction with the audience before and after the performance in public space (e.g. in front of the performance venue) using AR techniques on their own smartphone or tablet (download via QR codes).
The app is digital overture and epilogue at the same time: objects and characters from MELENCOLIA can be placed by the audience in augmented realities. Since different sound tracks are assigned to the objects, a composition for a six- to nine-voice cell phone choir can be heard at the same time.
PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA
The transdigital music theatre MELENCOLIA is awarded with a HONORARY MENTION in the category DIGITAL MUSICS & SOUND ART of the PRIX ARS ELECTRONICA 2023. Selected out of over 3.000 applications with the following jury statement:
“MELENCOLIA combines one of the oldest forms of human performance (theater) with one of the most emotional psychological states of humans (melancholia) and integrates various state-of-the-art technologies (AI, AR, live electronics, 3D audio, etc.). (…) A hugely complex project, MELENCOLIA demonstrates the potential of modern technologies in a traditional, specific environment, such as the opera, and proves that new artistic formats can thrive in these spaces.“