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Commission to Hans Thomalla

Nationaltheater Mannheim (DE)

Up to what point is a person granted self-determination and where does self-determination falter because it violates traditional notions of love, fidelity and dealing with one's own body? The opera project Dark Fall by composer Hans Thomalla goes in search of a deeper understanding of autonomy and the transformation of the ego in an aesthetic, sonic and narrative way. Following the successful world premiere of the opera Dark Spring (2020), Hans Thomalla returns once again to the Nationaltheater Mannheim with the follow-up piece Dark Fall. The two operas are designed as a diptych. Where Dark Spring focused on the fate of four young people, Dark Fall focuses on four elderly people.

The opera thematizes the piecewise disappearance of a protagonist's individual room for maneuver: the disintegration of formal coherence finds its way into the musical design principle, for example in arias whose substance and layout make the drifting apart of assertion and control audible. Playful, almost hymn-like moments, reminiscent of the exuberant mood of popular music, abruptly break into violent contrasts. Silence is juxtaposed with an animalistic sonority; melodies lose themselves in noise. Dark Fall is based on motifs from Goethe's Die Wahlverwandschaften, but also draws on the real-life experiences of people affected by Alzheimer's, whether as patients, relatives, or caregivers. The libretto for the opera is written by the composer together with the poet and linguist Juliana Spahr. The aria, duet and ensemble texts are provided by the writer and journalist Joshua Clover. The composition commission to Hans Thomalla for the National Theater Mannheim is sponsored by the Ernst von Siemens Music Foundation.

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February 29,2024
March 2, March 3, March 6, March 8, 2024
Rokokotheater Schwetzingen