Composer Hauke Berheide. Libretto by Amy Stebbins.

An opera about Heinrich von Kleist's "Penthesilea"

In German with German surtitles.


War is always "over there". We ourselves don't see it. Soldiers steer drones through the green night and make decisions blindly. CNN and Tagesschau provide aestheticized splinters of a truth which may not even exist. In Kleist's Penthesilea (1808), war is raging, and no one can remember who is fighting against whom or for what reason. 

It is by means of Mauerschau - the Greek theater device of describing unstageable scenes as they unfold offstage - that the warring Amazons and Greeks try to get a clear view of the situation; yet Penthesilea and Achilles both misread the other's motives. Achilles plans to feign succumbing to his beloved on the battlefield; unaware of this, she kills him - or was it different? In Mauerschau, reality shatters. Characters and their stories split apart into multiple variations. And the war remains "over there" - in the sound, perhaps? Luftwerk's light and video design suspends all certainty of what's near and what's far. What did we see? What has happened? Will we ever know?