Lotte de Beer

Stage director

Penthesilea – 2010

Kameroperahuis – A solo-duo opera about love and power and the power of love.

The story of Penthesilea, the Amazone Queen who could only discover love on the battlefield, about a man and a woman whose catastrophe was caused by the disrupted relationship between love and power, has everything to do with the story about love in the 21st century.

We too are trapped in the battle between the urge for love and the power of the individual. We too struggle with the will to posses the other and the fear of being possessed. We too devour each other as products in a consumer society.

Yet hope lies in the beauty of how mankind knows how to bend his destiny in his self created life lie.

I had the privilege to be able to help composer Benedict Weisser create a new opera. From our joint fascination for the power of human imagination in extreme situations, we ended up with this wonderful piece by Von Kleist about a young virgin queen who, driven by inhumane regulations of her society, in a flash of insanity kills and eats her lover. When she wakes up, she wonders why she feels so wonderful, so fulfilled. Because she has conquered him of course! And because she can marry him now… This form of self protection is so tragic and at the same time compellingly beautiful that it became the basis of our new opera.

In his Music, Benedict Weisser worked with the structure of a psychological ‘whodunnit’ in which the conscious aspect of the character gets described by the singer, who for instance describes in a lyric line how happy she is, while the instruments represent her subconscious that breathes down her neck with the harsh truth. This road to ruin, gets alternated with a glimpse of the beauty that love could be if only the fear of it would disappear.

In my regie of this piece I tried to focus on the hinges of a society in which the human size has disappeared and power has a higher status than love.

Via characters from the ancient times, I try to understand mankind of today in his longing for individuality, his fear of commitment  and, eventually, his immense loneliness. Sexuality and violence are very close to each other. A principle that only becomes a problem if society creates a taboo which suppresses the natural sexuality. Although there are not many sexual taboos anymore nowadays, the misuse of sexuality by consumerism makes our relationship with it even more unhealthy than in the amazone society.

Penthesilea: -Composer: Benedict Weisser -Libretto: Adapted from heintrich von Kleist by Lotte de Beer- Conductor: Wouter Padberg- Regie: Lotte de Beer – Set- and costume design: Marouscha Levy –Penthesilea: Young Hee Kim – Achilles: Alistair Shelton Smith Producer: Kameroperahuis