»reading tosca« – an exciting new choreographic reading of the puccini opera – is not a staging of this opera but rather a contemporary new composition in movement and sound.
in a polyphonic tableau the choreography unifies cruel poetry and discord, horrific images, sensitive portraits and increasingly ironic and critical reflections of society. puccini’s composition is deconstructed and the smallest particles appear as though originating from a hidden space. thus the music is also a poetic metaphor of fragility as well as a mirror of the opera’s inherent destructive power.
reality, desires and visions fall to pieces. in »reading tosca« everything can be reversed into its opposite; violence, torture, feelings of powerlessness, uncertainty and desire are intertwined into a brutal world full of inner conflicts.
»the spectacular final tableau swept the audience off their feet into ecstatic rounds of applause. « (faz)
»a choreographically convincing reading of the opera from the dancers’ perspective is the result. toula limnaios proves to be a choreographer with fantasy and a clearsighted interpreter of puccini’s opera.«(neue züricher zeitung, 2008)
commissioned by kunst aus der zeit der bregenzer festspiele in co-production with the tanzfestival bregenzer frühling, the künstlerhaus mousonturm frankfurt/ main and the halle tanzbühne berlin. supported by the nationale performance netz from funds of tanzplan deutschland, a project by the federal cultural foundation. for the music composition an excerpt from a performance „tosca“ at the bregenzer festspielen was: tosca- nadja michael, cavaradossi – zoran todorovich, scarpia – gidon saks, angelotti – sebastian soules, spoletta – alexander krawetz, sexton/jailer – martin winkler, sciarrone – martin busen, shepherd – katja velletaz. music played by vienna symphony orchestra under, musical direction: ulf schirmer
tours: bregenzer festspiele, frankfurt/main, berlin, hameln, krefeld, quito/ecuador, cartagena/spanien, nürnberg, ludwigshafen
premiere 2008 dance/creation: mercedes appugliese, fleur conlon, kayoko minami, elik niv, clebio oliveira, ute pliestermann, hironori sugata lighting design: klaus dust
”the spectacular final tableau (swept) the audience off their feet into ecstatic rounds of applause.” (frankfurter allgemeine zeitung, 2008)
»one of the most prestigious choreographers of the european dance scene has adopted ›tosca‹. seven dancers deliver an impressive 70-minute performance. … a disturbing and enduringly impressive piece of contemporary dan ce.« (gießener allgemeine zeitung, dagmar klein, 2008)
»stunning images of fragmented relationships: limnaios, one of the most creative berlin choreographers, presents more than just the simple illustration of the original opera through dance. she has succeeded in producing haunting images of that very fragility of relationships, which the figures surrounding tosca typify. aside from the stunning visual solutions and the exquisite septet of dancers, it is her typical feeling for movement that lifts »reading tosca« into a league of its own.«(tanzjournal, 2008)
»a choreographically convincing reading of the opera from the dancers’ perspective is the result. toula limnaios proves to be a choreographer with fantasy and a clear-sighted interpreter of puccini’s opera.« (neue züricher zeitung, martina wohlthat, 2008)
»toula limnaios succeeds in producing images of disturbing beauty. «reading tosca» is a moving reflection on opera and feelings, the body and voice.« (tagesspiegel, sandra luzina,2008)
»recently, opera manager sir peter jonas was asked what he could envisage for the future of the bayreuther festspiele. his answer was: it would be interesting and inspiring to see wagner’s operas danced in bayreuth, choreographed by famous choreographers. a fascinating idea. such an avant-garde venture is probably not realistic in bayreuth within the next 50 years; truly novel ideas are tested in artistically more interesting places. for example, yesterday evening, the mousonturm in frankfurt presented a dance opera, namely “reading tosca”.« (hessischer rundfunk, hr 2)
»the visually powerful piece by toula limnaios manages to avoid trivialities even when she reaches for a self-evident image, such is the color red. irony is another talent of toula limnaios. the most beautiful and at the same time most illuminating image is the one with a dancer having wine glasses strapped around her arms. one glass is filled with a deep red liquid. slowly and carefully, the dancer twines and turns so that she can pour the red juice from one glass into another. she is a delicate, miracle creature, a kind of lucia-bride who has to be very careful because of the candles on her head. nothing breaks in ›reading tosca‹. in real life, as the performance undoubtedly shows, there would have long been broken pieces.« (frankfurter rundschau, sylvia staude, 2008)
overpowering images of fragmented relationships///
»toula limnaios, one of berlin’s most creative choreographers, makes sure that it is no danced illustration of the original. the delicate greek with the decade-long continuity of unbridled artistic power is not interested in the individual storylines in her world premiere (commissioned by the bregenzer festspiele). however, she does focus on the emotional levels and the entanglements of her protagonists, without having the dancers be directly associated to them.
limnaios succeeds in creating lasting images of such a fragility like all the relationships that the exemplary characters in tosca represent. she finds the most enchanting image at the end; a woman frees herself from the male besetment, soon protrudes as a lonely figure from her yards of fabric, is lifted up and falls backwards into the invisible chasm. parallel to the solo in the expanse of this dress a counterpoint and visualization of her feelings was presented: a brilliant, sport-like daring battle duet. this is, next to the image solutions and the excellent seven dancers, the typical sense of movement between acrobatics and scurrility that once again make «reading tosca» a piece of caliber.« (neues deutschland & tanznetz, volkmar draeger, 2008)
»(…) puccini’s opera crime thriller (…) is excellently suited to be reworked as dance. also to unfold the behavior and range of emotion that develops when people meet. all on the basis of this oddly removed character, given the period when the opera was created. that may seem to be an incredibly wide palette. the choreography encircles desire and the representation of reservation and imagination in images that are as multi-layered as they are pointed, cliché-free as well as humorous. (…) the respectively polished movement vocabulary that toula limnaios effectively implements offers the piece an excellently balanced tempo. the lighting adds a level of poetry. lots of enthusiastic cheering.
«reading tosca» turned out great; in berlin and frankfurt it will be in the program for a long time to come. and in the process will give bregenz publicity and thus increase the attractiveness of the festival.« (vorarlberger nachrichten, christa dietrich, 2008)
»pas de deux in destiny’s dress… to see tosca and forget tosca: this is how one could describe the paradox situation in which the choreographer toula limnaios brings the bregenz festspielhaus audience. (…) the music-theater piece shimmers as through a scrim curtain, especially since the performance is set in front of the bregenz indoor opera stage. but it is precisely this doubling that defines a part of the observers’ fascination the seven excellent dancers evoke. it is as though one had seen an opera, to then dream of it afterwards. it is a danced nightmare. ralf r. ollertz wrote a nightmarish new composition from the recording of a bregenz performance from last year, to one part with edited elements, to another with passages in which the original is clearly identifiable. also… the music seems to come from another dimension: contorted like a face in a mirror that scarpia holds while two dancers force themselves into the same dress, intertwined… and they don’t manage to escape one another. toula limnaios has found strong images for hopelessness and brutality as well as the completely disturbed relationships the characters have. … what the 19th century music can manage to cover up is unveiled without compromise by cie. toula limnaios from berlin; a world in which no one trusts each other and a game in which the players are both perpetrator and victim. the strongest image in this game is tosca’s blood-red velvet robe, an oversized dress of destiny that the actors alternately slip into. finally the whole stage is drowned in velvet that the dancers throw in waves to allow new character constellations to appear in its midst. it is an optically impressive finale after 75 minutes of fatalistic, exciting dance theater. in its core the creators have come closer to the opera than they may have intended. or the opera is more modern than one had thought.« (südkurier, bettina schröm, 2008)
»toula limnaios leads her wonderfully secure dancers through the space in a polyphonic whirlpool of atmospheric images and lets insanity free reign. scenes intertwine or exist in parallel. … ralf ollertz’s music, based on a tosca recording, amplifies this. together with dance it develops a suggestive effect with its fractured and (new composition of) orchestral sounds and voices.« (allgäuer zeitung, klaus-peter mayr, 2008)
»the theme from «e lucevan le stelle» drifts quietly through the space, a dog is barking, four women and three men are standing equidistant on stage. they then collapse. the atmosphere is full of tension, menacing… when the people search for their clothes and high-heeled shoes and quickly cross the stage in straight and diagonal lines. the question «who is who» in the opera roles appears to have been nullified. meetings occur in a steady stream that progressively intensify. the greek choreographer’s body language is incredibly expressive, modern… numerous gestures of oppression and submission but also of symbiosis and reflection sketch a shifting pattern of relationships. one can associate this with the opera, but one doesn’t have to.
highly effective, alongside the colorful clothes from daily life, is the glowing red dress with an enormous train that can be spread out like a tent. everyone can put it on and hide in it. the japanese dancer slips into it to the «te deum» while another two slowly rotating dancers threaten the four female dancers with long sticks. blood, passion, eroticism and despair are all caught up in this dress.
the strong images are supported and intensified by ralf ollertz’s music. he prepared and sampled the recording of the lake performance and redistributed it to numerous speakers, altered it… extended it with electronic means. … motifs and arias suddenly appear, but still the vicinity to the opera is existent. for 70 minutes one is involved in a disturbing world of expression that allows for many interpretations and associations and whose effect continues to resonate.« (schwäbische zeitung & neue vorarlberger tageszeitung, katharina von glasenapp, 2008)
»a distant echo of great opera still rings in «reading tosca»… (the piece) examines images of women’s roles and is thus as timeless and contemporary as «tosca» can be.« (orf, v1 am abend (news and cultural show), report by ingrid bertel, camera: götz wagner, 2008)
»toula limnaios, the far-known choreographer from berlin, is a guest in the tafelhalle, daring to take an equally daring and ingenious look at puccini’s opera ›tosca‹. with ›reading tosca‹ she creates a sensitive simile with strict stylistic elements… discomfort and fascination alternate. figures are under the spell of a strange power. and above all,there is the outstanding dance septet, which with this dance performance has certainly left a lasting memory in the tafelhalle. everything is imprinted:… the central prop of ›reading tosca‹ is an oversized red, velvet dress that runs throughout the performance like a trail of blood. the mysterious female bearer of the opulent final punch may be the symbol of all stage action. bravo!« (nürnberger zeitung, 2009)
»drama, passion, death: what surprises and impresses is the overall dramaturgy with unusual visual and acoustic ideas. the visual also emanates a special radiance. seldom can the suffering be so beautiful..« (www.tanzpresse.de, 2008)