Music Theatre


Music Theatre

Enno Poppe: “IQ”. [Report]


Past Dates

“What’s all this doing on an opera stage?” asks composer Enno Poppe, who is forever inspired by the scattered, disorderly noise cosmos of our perception. He stages an intelligence test setting with various subjects in eight acts, “constantly returning to the beginning to start again”.

Order results from a fear of chaos. During the Modern period, nature as well as the soul were considered to be its undomesticated outgrowth. The crooked was to be straightened. The mark was often overstepped. Thomas Mann had his composer Adrian Leverkühn put it into words in “Doctor Faustus”: “even a silly order is better than none at all.” In the 18th century the brain was considered to be a machine, and today this culminates in the idea that it is on par with the computer. The goal of incessantly producing measuring results remains unchanged: monstrous archaic notions in the lab coat of our contemporary world.

Author Marcel Beyer has long been tracing human conditioning procedures. He shows us how humans are already attacked in the mother’s womb by verbal “noise” from measuring instruments. Beyer’s fascination with voices is evident. He has assembled the libretto for Enno Poppe’s opera “IQ” using voices of testers measuring, and subjects being measured. Instrumentalists and audience both mutate into components of a hermetic testing system. The promise of happiness leads one female tester to make the sad statement that “my days at the test generator are my favourite days”. Enno Poppe’s sonic world operates on the dialectic of number and chance, control and decay, technology and freedom, and arises from the interaction of all forces. Anna Viebrock’s production is based on “the question of that anonymous instance that sets the standard” and is already part of the compositional process – space and light included. Beyer’s words give birth to the notes. An entirely unique test assembly.

Enno Poppe
Test sequence in eight acts (2011/2012)
Libretto: Marcel Beyer

Enno Poppe, conductor
Anna Viebrock, direction / stage / costumes
Till Exit, assistance stage
Gerd Meier, lighting design
Wolfgang Heiniger, audio software
Holger Stenschke, sound
Malte Ubenauf, dramaturgy

Rosemary Hardy, Head of Testing
Katja Kolm, Tester
Anna Clare Hauf, Volunteer
Andreas Fischer, Volunteer
Ernst Surberg, Assistant 1
Lukas Schiske, Assistant 2

Klangforum Wien

A co-production of Schwetzinger SWR Festspiele with Theater Basel and ZKM Karlsruhe, funded by the German Federal Cultural Foundation.
The performance in Berlin is funded by the Capital Cultural Fund