first performance : 09/30/2008
Festspielhaus Hellerau - Dresdner Tage der zeitgenössischen Musik
Director: Anna Malunat
Video: Barbara Lubich
Cast: Romain Bischoff, Bauwien van der Meer, Gunnar Brandt-Sigurdsson, Camille Hesketh, Gudrun Burghofer, Elsbeth Gerritsen, Arnout Lems, Job Hubatka (VocaaLAB ) and Zoltan Maczai, Daniel Kis, Sebastian Kunzke, Heike Gneiting, Majella Stockhausen-Riegelbauer, Jan Schlichte, Petra Kießling, Martin Heinze (Ensemble Klangart Berlin)
Maria De Alvear about Colorful Penis :
A soldier (also: the caterpillar), after years in combat, gets lost in a desert, without any orientation. There he is surprised by the appearance of a bear. Is it a harmless bear? He instinctively rises his weapon but is shaken by doubt. It is this instant of decision which summarizes the inner struggle and potential of the soldier which is the topic of the opera. The soldier, lead by the bear, goes through a development in which he meets the colourful peacock with his enviable penis (in the realm of ghosts), the olive tree (inhabitant of the penis-world), the camomile (inhabitant of world of flowery women), the mighty she-whale, his would-be lover, and other frightening inhabitants of the ocean, the creatures in the cave of ancestors, the three importunately loving Grandmothers in the Sauna world, and he finds back to himself when finally reaching the realm of mirrors to make his decision not to kill the bear. The worlds he passes are archetypical realms such as described in ancient myths. During this process the soldier faces different aspects of his inner self: rationality and intuition, curiosity and fear, the longing for freedom and the striving for transcendence. The soldier is the one and the many. Sexuality, as expression of uttermost intimacy, takes a key role in this process being the link between the spiritual self and the body, the human being and nature.
Colorful penis is composed in an attitude of naivety and ambiguous humour. The French libretto creates an ironic distance and a certain erotic esprit, it allows funny word combinations and adds an aspect of lightness and playfulness. The title is a straightforward one with the aim to go into medias res and to directly face what the opera is about, opening up for the freedom and ease that is necessary to follow the game on the stage.
Instrumental music and singing are mostly musically separated from each other. While the instruments express the emotional content of the piece and shape a background for atmospheres and associations, the singers use their voice to get into a dialogue. The composition leaves much room for personal interpretations.
In Hellerau the audience was sitting within the scenery, they had the opportunity to see what the singers could perceive. The soldier – a cocooned caterpillar – is entangled in his own fetters, his senses are restricted and almost dead. He is lost in a desert, but while the desert is immeasurably wide, the scenery shows the narrowness of the soldier’s this landscape, allowing only a sight of a few metres, like in a fog: thousands of white cotton threads hanging from the ceiling veil the view.