Contortionists in a concrete bunker: Lars Scheibner stages Gustav Holst’s chamber opera Sāvitri in Berlin’s Berghain, one of the world’s hippest techno clubs.
When a friend gave Gustav Holst (1874-1934) a book about the sacred scriptures of India, it triggered a decade and a half of sustained creative activity. The English composer learned Sanskrit in order to be able to draw the wisdom of the subcontinent directly from the sources. In 1907-08 he wrote the text and composed the music of »Sāvitri«, basing it on an episode from the Mahābhārata, the Hindu epic.
»Sāvitri« is the story of a woman who outwits Death and succeeds in snatching her husband Satyavān back to life from his clutches. What most fascinated Berlin choreographer Lars Scheibner in the story were the omnipresence of death and the capacity of the human being for transcending his or her limits. Scheibner’s scenic conception brings the experience breathtakingly close: the audience drifted through the former power plant and became part of the action. The soloists moved among the spectators while contortionists writhed over their heads. The chorus stretched through the full height and breadth of Berghain. Ethereal sounds wafted in like air from another planet. The weight of the antiquated concrete bunk pressed against a staging that strives upwards: lightness breaks down heaviness.