A black-and-white film about war and loss
The 3rd Online festival of the Greek National Opera "The Music of Language", curated by GNO Artistic Director Giorgos Koumendakis, was presented from 9 December 2020 to 6 January 2021 and featured five unique short stories that combine the art of the image with the power of music and narrative language through new readings of music works. Through all these works, the festival revealed imaginative ways of transmuting music and language into another form of art through the image, proposing new operatic, inspired film experiences filled with humour and an honest mood of self-sarcasm.
The festival was made possible by a grant from the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) [www.SNF.org] to enhance the Greek National Opera’s artistic outreach.
At a glance – Synopsis
Mich nicht (Not me) is a short film conceived and directed by Zoe Xanthopoulou, and based on composer Nikos Ioakeim’s work mich nicht. in den fremden städten (2014). Black-and-white long takes, portraits of people against the backdrop of deserted places, and parallel stories through poems of Edgar Allan Poe and a narrative of Guy de Maupassant compose a special film about war and loss, featuring the work’s performers.
The work mich nicht. in den fremden städten (not me. in foreign lands) was written in 2014 for a narrator, a masked singer with monastery bells, clarinet and string quartet, and it was based on poems of Edgar Allan Poe (The City in the Sea, The Sleeper) and a short story of Guy de Maupassant (Deux Amis). It was commissioned and presented in Gent, Belgium, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. “The baritone, in the role of the summoner of the dead, sings lyrics of Poe, while the narrator, in a parallel universe, reads excerpts from Maupassant’s short story in another language. The musicians also participate through speech contributing thus to the creation of a musico-theatrical mosaic, an elliptic script on death and loss. The title is a reference to Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weil’s Threepenny opera, a landmark work of an era quite similar to ours – can we hear the distress signal? The work was recently recorded especially for the filming of Zoe Xanthopoulou’s movie Mich nicht”, notes Nikos Ioakeim.
Creative team – Cast
Composition Nikos Ioakeim
Director, conception Zoe Xanthopoulou
Costumes Ifigenia Daoudaki
Singer Marios Sarantidis bass-baritone
Narrator David Đokić
Musicians Haralambos Karassavidis, Calliope Mitropoulou (violin, voice), Stelios Papanastassis (viola, voice), Marina Kolovou (cello, voice), Yannis Karayannidis (clarinet)
“The work’s original title mich nicht. in den fremden städten, a reference to Brecht’s Threepenny opera, became an occasion for unlocking a world of images inside me; images with people marching toward a meeting point where the artist-enchanter leads them to an existential glorification that will become a collective memory. A new world is born through associations and references to Macheath from the 1931 film Threepenny opera (directed by Georg Wilhelm Pabst) and Polly as a bride, to Poe’s personal register and subjectivity, to annihilated tender feelings like those in Guy de Maupassant’s writings, to Méliès’ “fake skies”, to a Felliniesque landscape between the real and the imaginary, and to expressionistic figures offering a way out from the atrocities of socio-political events through the art. All the above draw inspiration from the elements of the music work”, notes director Zoe Xanthopoulou.