Die Besessenen

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Premiere
Friday, 19th of February 2010,
7pm

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Plot

World premiere commissioned by the Theater an der Wien

Wild characters, smouldering passion, avarice, a fateful towel and, to cap
it all, a murder: these were the ingredients with which the Polish author
spiced up the novel Possessed: The Secret of Myslotch that he wrote in instalments
for the Polish newspapers Morning Express and Red Courier
in 1939. For decades, the novel was believed lost due to the war. But in
1967 it was rediscovered and translated into many languages. Now the
German author Christoph Klimke has turned Gombrowicz’s work into a
libretto dramatisation and concentrated on individual plot lines.

The egocentric, young and beautiful Maja is engaged to Cholawicki, the supposed
heir to an old, dilapidated castle that nevertheless contains numerous
art treasures. With this inheritance, Maja believes he will also make her rich
and save her mother from bankruptcy at the same time. These materialistic
plans are thwarted by Leszczuk, however, a young tennis player who falls in
love with Maja. Both of them are unscrupulous egotists who share the blame
for the self-destruction of society that is marked by morbid decay. The only
person who really does anything to secure the future and preserve the country’s
culture is the art historian Skolinski who carries out a valuation of the
collection in the castle. On the other hand, the old prince and lord of the
castle is obsessed not only with material possessions but also by his missing
son. The possessed are ultimately driven to destruction – all that remains at
the end is disillusionment.

The music of Die Besessenen was written to suggest on the one hand the
relation between the various different periods that the characters live in
or feel they belong to, and on the other, the image of this bizarre ghostly
apparition, the towel, that plunges the characters into confusion. Elements
of old music and commercial media combine with composer
Johannes Kalitzke’s own tonal language to form a web of structural relationships
that, like the folds of a towel or a fan that slowly closes leaving
a pictureless shaft, contracts as the plot progresses to form a compact
centre that sucks everything into it.