REIN GOLD (PURE GOLD)
NO BRAVE NEW WORLD
It is not the first time that Elfriede Jelinek adds her own drama to one already existing. The writer, who prefers to draw her vocabulary from the monstrous (or rather all-too-human) present prefers to pursue paths not taken. Her impetus to write comes from what has already made its way to language. She calls these texts »secondary dramas«: one of these works Abraumhalde (Slag Heap) seconds Lessing’s Nathan der Weise (Nathan the Wise), another is entitled FaustIn and Out. By rendering familiar voices strange and catapulting them to the world of today, these dramas generate a disturbance in pieces where performers have otherwise allowed a rest and supposed certainties to enter.
Now, for the first time Jelinek has taken a musical text as her point of departure, Wagner’s Ring of the Nibelung. Rein Gold (Pure Gold) is the title of this stage essay, in terms of its structure it is a conversation between Wotan and Brünnhilde. The corrupt world of the Ring cycle, greedy for gold, has not come to an end, father and daughter are still caught up in the midst of it. And yet, they are somewhat distanced from themselves, placed alongside themselves. Other Brünnhildes and Wotans, other voices of daughters, fathers, lovers, the powerful, heroes, the free and the un-free, those doomed to die and the hopeful, failures, revolutionaries, imposters and fanatics, visionaries and the depressive from all ages are incorporated. Time has been stretched, the apocalypse is permanent. »How did we get here, and how do we get out again?«, Brünnhilde asks, or, in Jelinek’s words, »Let me try to be more precise … So, Daddy had this castle built, now he can’t pay back his loan: that can come up in every other family. Let me try to be more precise – why don’t the laws work that you yourself made? What remains of your world design? Why this house, Daddy, why Valhalla, why this demonstration of power? Why don’t you pay your workers – the important and the less important ones, why do they kill themselves for gold? Who is going to fix all of this, where is the hero? I thought you were god! What’s happening to you, Daddy! Daddy, please don’t go! What am I supposed to do?«
Jelinek does not grant Brünnhilde the peace of silence, she denies her all redemption. Returning the ring to the Rhine, no more gods, and love has the last word? Jelinek does not say maybe, there’s no possible other, new world to come. The world afterward is the world before: all possibilities for utopia have been lost forever. It only develops visions when they are marketable, a model of a product that replaces an old one, are called the new generation. Those that announce this are its heroes, those who supposedly resist recycle blunt, dull ideologies, spread terror against the other, and do not fight for the many who no longer have a voice. Only one thing outshines all else, outlasts everyone and all critique, it is not love, it is gold: money wanders eternally. The false gods are immortal.
The dialog between Brünnhilde and Wotan, between Wagner and Jelinek, between her text and his musical drama, between theater and opera, between old and new world(s) has only just begun. Singers and actors fight out these battles for us, the musicians Thomas Kürstner, Sebastian Vogel with their modular synthesizer, and Staatskapelle Berlin under the direction of Markus Poschner. And that’s the good news: a promise of something else, something that already Wagner had hoped for.
Benjamin von Blomberg