Félicien David’s grand opéra Herculanum opened in Paris in 1959. Set in Roman antiquity, the opera depicts the downfall of a regime and the demise of the city of Herculaneum as God’s vengeance for the decadence of the era. David’s Herculanum was a spectacular success: a mixture of music, mass scenes, lavish decorations, revolutionary spirit and ballet. And its final scene left the Parisian audience whooping with delight: the explosive eruption of Vesuvius in A.D. 79, which famously buried Herculaneum.
In their new project HERCULANUM, Johannes Müller and Philine Rinnert explore opera as a genre that has always conceived of itself as the privileged medium for representing the great horror scenarios and disasters of the world. The directors archaeologically research the lost theatrical success of Herculanum and the political entertainment of the grand opéra genre. In collaboration with singers, musicians and scientists, they collect relics and combine, reinvent and apply what they discover. They ponder whether opera is more than a museum of delicate voices on display and which current disasters are eligible for a grand operatic finale.
For the first time in over 150 years HERCULANUM showcases the music of Félicien David’s forgotten opera success.
With Maja Lange, Ulrike Schwab, Thomas Volle, Simon Robinson, Friedemann Mewes, Martin Lorenz, Theo Nabicht, Tobias von Glenck etc.
Direction/Set: Johannes Müller/Philine Rinnert, Arrangement and new music: Martin Lorenz, Musical direction: Friedemann Mewes, Martin Lorenz, Dramaturgy: Eike Wittrock, Artistic assistance: För Kunkel, Production: Ehrliche Arbeit – Freies Kulturbüro
A production by Johannes Müller/Philine Rinnert in coproduction with Sophiensaele. Funded by Senatskanzlei-Kulturelle Angelegenheiten, Hauptstadtkulturfonds Berlin, ProHelvetia and Palazetto Bru Zane Venedig. Supported by Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia Napoli.