Schweigt Stille / Sober up!

Santiago Blaum (Berlin) / Artists in Residence
In 1734, Johann Sebastian Bach composed the cantata "Schweigt stille, plaudert nicht" for the Collegium Musicum, an ensemble that had its permanent performance venue in the Zimmermannische Kaffeehaus in Leipzig. Known as the Kaffeekantate, the work tells the amusing "coming of age story" of young Liesgen, who is addicted to coffee, and her father Schlendrian's desperate attempts to stop her from drinking it.

The cantata pays tribute to the emerging bourgeoisie, which formed its identity precisely around the many new coffee houses in Europe, but the story of coffee, which plays such a central role in it, remains unreflective.

In "Schweigt Stille/Sober up!", Argentine composer and theater-maker Santiago Blaum confronts this canonical work of European "high" art with the concrete political and economic conditions of its production. Lieschen's story is interrupted throughout the evening by different temporal and spatial levels that open up a variety of narratives. As a result, the characters must question the stability of their roles and are even forced to dialogue with unpredictable ghosts.

Bach's original music is expanded and recomposed, not only with new and foreign material, but also by contaminating the traditional perception that considers the organization of pitches and the resulting harmony as the main structuring factor in European classical music. In contrast, the use of repetition and rhythmic and tonal development as a constructive process (which is much more central in Latin American music, among others) is intended to break an unspoken rule of that era, which seems to want to direct the gaze appropriately in the opposite direction of the body in order to proclaim itself as "music for the mind."

The image of a Europe suddenly sobered by the miraculous intervention of coffee in its history, shaking off the anesthesia of centuries of beer and wine consumption in the wake of the Enlightenment, contrasts sharply with the materiality of coffee as a crop and the human energy invested in it, as well as with the simultaneous process of consolidation of the colonial and postcolonial world order.

Santiago Blaum was born in Buenos Aires where he studied literature, piano and composition, opera singing, theater improvisation. Since 2004 he has worked as a musical director and composer in Berlin with various groups and has been a frequent guest at the Residence with the group She She Pop. Since 2010 he has directed and composed several independent music theater productions.

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Premiere on 25.11.2023


Staging, music, concept: Santiago Blaum
By and with: Fernanda Farah, Zaki Hagins, Eva Löbau
Cello: Eurico Ferreira Mathias
Stage design: Jan Brokof
Light design, video: Catalina Fernandez
Costume design: Arturo Lugo
Dramaturgy: Tamara Saphir
Dramaturgical advice: José Fernando Peixoto de Azevedo
Recherche: David Magnus
Outside Eye: Tatiana Saphir
Video advice: Benjamin Krieg
Assistance: Sigourney Pilz
Production: Jill Emerson & Till Rothmund

A co-production by Santiago Blaum with Residenz Schauspiel Leipzig and Radialsystem Berlin

The realisation of the project is made possible with funds from the Hauptstadtkulturfonds.