While living in Israel twelve years ago and experiencing life as a foreigner the director and librettist Anke Rauthmann first had the idea for an operatic dramatisation of the Kaspar Hauser material. The libretto was written over a number of years and several versions exist.
The Berlin based British composer Alexis Pope has now composed the first five scenes to the latest version of Anke’s libretto.
On May 26, 1828, a teenage boy appeared in the streets of Nuremberg, Germany. He was taken to a police station, where he wrote down his name: Kaspar Hauser. For as long as he could remember, he had spent his life totally alone in a darkened hole, with only a straw bed to sleep on, a horse carved out of wood for a toy and each morning he would find bread and water next to his bed.
Kaspar Hauser aroused great ineterest and was made an object of international curiosity. Rumours arose that he was ‘blue blooded’, but there were also claims that he was an impostor. On December 14, 1833, Hauser came home with a deep wound on the left side of his chest which proved to be fatal. Many people in their personal quests for identity and self affirmation projected themselves onto Kaspar Hauser. His suffering poses various philosophical questions: what constitutes the identity of a human being? What if essential external factors such as heritage, nationality, socialisation, education, religion etc. are missing?
Kaspar Hauser´s experience is a parable on how society is dealing with a stranger.
The opera Kaspar Hauser was inspired by Jakob Wassermann’s 1908 novel, Caspar Hauser. Scenes from the opera will be presented by a cast of young singers after a one-week workshop under the direction of Philip Headlam and Anke Rauthmann.
Scene 1: Introduction
After years in a dungeon, young Kaspar is released by an unknown person. His sudden appearance surprises the people of Nuremberg.
Scene 2: The investigation
Kaspar is being interrogated by the police and considered a possible danger. Dragged away to prison he is stared at by Mrs. Behold, a respected middle-class lady.
Scene 3: Kaspar in prison
The investigator´s report concludes that Kaspar Hauser might have been a victim of a crime. Hill, the prison ward, tries to cheer Kaspar up. Kaspar wants to go “home”. A paper boy shouts out the latest headlines.
Kaspar is being taken care of by Daumer who teaches Kaspar to speak, read and write.
Scene 7: A test
Kaspar writes a diary and puts down his most intimate thoughts. Kaspar tells a lie to stop Daumer from reading his notes.
Disappointed about the lie, Daumer passes Kaspar on to Mrs. Behold who exploits his innocence.
Scene 10: Mrs. Behold´s house, at night
Drunk and torn between sexual passion and religious morality, Mrs. Behold tries to seduce Kaspar.
Kaspar eventually moves in with the merchant Tucher who tries to turn him into a hard-working man. Lord Stanhope claims that Kaspar may be of royal descent. Kaspar is completely infatuated with the idea that Stanhope will lead him to his mother. When a
mysterious figure promises to reveal the secret of his mother and his birth Kaspar is stabbed to death.
Composer: Alexis Pope (Berlin, London)
Director/Librettist: Anke Rauthmann (Berlin)
Conductor/ Music Director: Philip Headlam (London)
Designer: Num Stibbe (Lewes)
Producer: Matthias Janser (Barcelona)
Assistant Director: Pierre Martinerie (Nantes)
Pianist: Kelvin Lim
Soprano: Stephanie Edwards
Counter Tenor: Ben Williamson
Tenor: Benjamin Regan
Baritone: David Milner-Pearce
Alexis Pope (Composer) studied composition and piano at the Royal Academy of Music with Alan Bush, Cornelius Cardew and Max Pirani and at the Chopin Academy in Warsaw. He regularly performs in contemporary music festivals and has recorded for BBC and Deutschland Radio. Influences include Cowell and African traditional music. His diverse output includes two Operas – The Bacchae and Antigone. Alexis Pope lives in Berlin.
Anke Rauthmann (Stage director, Librettist) studied Drama, Sociology and Literature. Assistant director at the New Israeli Opera, Bregenz Festival, Strasbourg, Liège, Bilbao, Bergen, Marseille, Avignon and Komische Oper Berlin.
Directed for the International Vocal Arts Institute Tel Aviv. Recent works include Mozart´s Le nozze di Figaro for Berlin International Opera and Pacini´s Don Giovanni for Rossini-in-Wildbad. Her libretti were commissioned by Opera Bonn, Opera Schwerin and Komische Oper Berlin. Anke is a member of the ITI Germany.
Matthias Janser (Producer) has worked as assistant director for ROH, ENO, Glyndebourne and the Bregenz and Salzburg Festivals. For Opera Holland Park he directed L’amico Fritz and Manon Lescaut, La Damnation de Faust for Opera North and Vanda for University College Opera. He is currently based in Barcelona where he works as producer/project manager and translator.
Num Stibbe (Designer) started her career as a musical instrument maker moving to designing and building sets for stop animation film. She was Head of Scenery at the Israeli Opera becoming Set Designer within the company. She designed for Teatro Klesidra and The English Theatre in Rome. Currently based in England, she is Associate Designer for The Paddock, designing plays, dance and opera.
Philip Headlam – (Conductor) has worked extensively in concert, opera and contemporary music with ENO, ETO, WNO, Wexford Festival, Royal Albert Hall Opera, Aldeburgh Festival, Almeida Opera, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Britten Sinfonia, Vlaamse Opera Studio, Theatre de la Monnaie, Batignano, Banff Centre, Manitoba Chamber Orchestra and the Israel Vocal Arts Institute. As the co-artistic director of The Continuum Ensemble he has performed over 50 concerts of contemporary music including broadcasts on BBC Radio 3 and Channel 4. Philip has worked with many of the leading composers in Britain and Europe.
Kelvin Lim – (Pianist) studied at RCM and has worked as repetiteur for companies including: Opera Genesis/ROH2, ENO, Opera Holland Park, ETO, Longborough, Tête-à-Tête. Kelvin has worked with John Tomlinson, Anne Evans, and in masterclass with Diana Montague, Barry Banks, Malcolm Martineau, Sarah Walker and Gwyneth Jones. Kelvin was the first UK pianist to be awarded the Wagner Society Bayreuth Bursary.
Pierre Martinerie – (Assistant Director)
was born in 1989 in Nantes, France. Though he appears entirely involved in his Literary studies, his particular interest in Art in general is likely to drive him outside the tracks of University. Jack of all trades, fond of directing, acting, photography and writing, he dedicates himself to a career in cinema, for which he wrote two scripts La Maison de Vacances and L’autre. After Le Nozze di Figaro with Berlin International Opera, Kaspar Hauser is his second collaboration with Anke Rauthmann .
Stephanie Edwards – (Soprano) recently graduated from the Royal College of Music with a Postgraduate Diploma whilst under the tuition of Russell Smythe. Previously she was a student at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama graduating in 2006 with a First Class Batchelor of Music (Honours) degree. Accomplished in both opera and oratorio she joins English Touring Opera in the spring.
Ben Williamson – (Counter Tenor) is currently a Scholar at the Royal College of Music, supported by a Helen Majory Tonks Award and the Josephine Baker Trust. He was formally a Choral Scholar at King’s College, Cambridge, where he read Philosophy. Recently, Ben played Arsamenes in a production of Handel’s Serse with Fitzwilliam Chamber Opera.
Benjamin Regan – (Tenor) was born in Folkestone and read Music at the University of Leeds. Since moving to London in 1994 he has become a sought-after oratorio performer, and appearances in Opera include Orfeo and Euridice in Plymouth, London, and the Netherlands, Acis and Galatea in Edinburgh, Don Giovanni in Leeds, and Der Fliegende Holländer in Belgium. He is a company member of Raymond Gubbay’s annual opera productions at the Royal Albert Hall. Later in 2008 he is singing Mime (Das Rheingold) in Edinburgh, and covering Radames (Aida) for Midsummer Opera.
David Milner-Pearce – (Baritone) was born and brought up in Yorkshire and educated at Ampleforth Abbey and College where he won a major music scholarship. David also won an entrance scholarship to study singing at the Royal Academy of Music. Whilst at the Academy he studied with Mark Wildman, Clara Taylor, Anthony Saunders, and Audrey Hyland. David has taken part in many master classes with the likes of Noelle Barker O.B.E., Robert Tear, John Carol-Case and Paul Hamburger. After Graduating from the Royal Academy of Music David has been working for a Marketing Agency and returned to vocal studies in September 2007 as the Sir Arthur Bliss Scholar at the Royal College of Music London. Here David currently studies with Greame Broadbent and Christopher Middleton.