A chamber opera based on the life and times of Kurt Tucholsky
COMPOSER: JAMES REYNOLDS
LIBRETTO: CHRISTOPHE KLIMKE
Berlin- Tucholosky's Spiegel (Tucholosky's Mirror)
In their contemporary opera, the writer Christoph Klimke and composer James Reynolds focus on Kurt Tucholsky and four of his alter egos: Peter Panter, Theobald Tiger, Kaspar Hauser and Ignaz Wrobel. Like the writer Tucholsky, who very much aimed to entertain readers with his texts, the Tucholsky opera makes no distinction between “entertainment” and “serious music” as is the convention, and reflects on the facets of Tucholsky’s personality in a variety of musical styles. Accordingly, the orchestra is comprised of an equally multifaceted complement, including a string ensemble, jazz combo, woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The world premiere of the opera took place on July 21, 2017 at Schlosstheater Rheinsberg.
From the beginning scenes, composer James Reynolds gives the direction of his chamber opera at the Rheinsberg Festival…Modern and contemporary concert music…Beginning with shrill, pointed tones that begin to sag deeper and deeper as though someone had pulled the plug on a record player until time stops…
Large intervallic leaps , a broad tonal range, intricate dynamics and long marvellous vocalized phrases …this from a Californian, now living in Berlin, composer asks a lot of his committed ensemble…
The composer is not shy. He uses ambitious vocal and orchestral clusters, Avant-Garde techniques and then a lovely alto flute solo, a jazz band plays 20’s music with the sound of the 80’s, the singers bring water glasses to a mystical sound field and use their mouths as percussion instruments. Single words from a phrase pass from voice to voice, the ensemble passages are clean, a romantic duet, aria-like passages, all done with a pure pleasing sound. A joy to hear. A good opera that appeals to the mind, heart, and ear and deserves to be heard again.
My criteria as a critic are simple… goosebumps or not…this is not often the case with modern music…an exception is James Reynolds score. From 20’s jazz to threatening contemporary, atmospherically everything is there…