In their co-production “The Cave”, which premiered in 1993 at the Wiener Festwochen, composer Steve Reich and video artist Beryl Korot trace the relationship between Jews and Muslims. “The Cave” places the 4000-year-old biblical story of Abraham, his wives Sarah and Hagar and sons Ishmael and Isaac in a modern context, representing the political situation in the Middle East at the time the work was written from 1989 to 1993 – a continuously current topic that has become increasingly explosive on account of the most recent developments.
“The Cave” is based on interview clips with Israelis, Palestinians and Americans. The answers to the same five questions: “Who was Abraham? Who was Sarah? Hagar? Ishmael? And Isaac?” reflect the different viewpoints within the different cultures and create a kaleidoscope of memories and reflections. Beryl Korot has fragmented this video interview material and enriched it with computer prints of quotations taken from the Bible and the Koran. The image sequences appear duplicated, simultaneously superimposed and nested on five large video screens. These image and voice documents create the foundation for the instrumental music: Steve Reich takes the speech melodies as a musical starting material, duplicating and harmonizing them. It was with “The Cave” that Steve Reich and Beryl Korot established a “new type of music theatre” in the form of a “video opera” that combines music with different videos of a documentary nature.