Undine (UA)

A Musical Theatre Project by Anna-Sophie Mahler
Undine comes from the element of water and has the ability to assume a variety of different shapes. Firmly believing that love for a human will unite her with him and his world, she transforms into a woman and steps ashore. But she soon realises: The agony and hardship are too harrowing and the price of being human is too high. She sees the cruel and imperious ways in which humans can deal with each other and with nature. Her well-intentioned wish to see both spheres united remains unfulfilled.

Domesticated, betrayed and rejected by humans, Undine returns to the water. And from there, she settles her score: She raises waves and floods against the earth and its old organising principles. She rebels against a net of projections, cast wide to catch her identity as a beautiful mermaid, and refuses to be reawakened by a yearning kiss.
Myths about Undine and mermaids reflect humanity’s longing to live in paradisiacal harmony with nature. Undine bears many different names in European mythology, and she comes in various guises: She wanders through different eras as a siren, a water spirit, a little mermaid, an irrepressible child of nature or a mysterious stranger. Stories, operas and large orchestral works bear her name.

In her project, Anna-Sophie Mahler does not evoke another rendition of the beautiful Undine. At the borders of theatre and musical theatre, she sets out on a research trip to canals, locks and to swamps and alluvial forests that have been drained for industrial use. What she finds when she reveals Undine may only be the memory of a mermaid, a revenant, assembled from set pieces from the ruins of civilisation and water myths. This Undine can no longer bear witness to an intact origin or the healing unity of nature. Staged with the devices of drama and musical theatre, we encounter a hybrid water-woman who has long-since decided that she will no longer submit to the countless attributions created in the history of her myth.

This Undine could be made of electronics or from biological organisms. By including issues of gene technology and cyborgisation in the production, the myth is made contemporary. What is our relationship with nature in our completely engineered environment? How could find a way to interact with nature successfully again?

Following “Eriopis” and “La Bohème. Träume // Leipzig”, this is the third production by theatre and opera director Anna-Sophie Mahler at Schauspiel Leipzig. Her theatre works are often distinguished by an intertwining of documentary texts and music. She works both for large theatres and opera houses, such as Thalia Theater Hamburg or Deutsche Oper Berlin, and in the independent scene with her company CapriConnection. Her production “Mittelreich” at Münchner Kammerspiele was invited to the 2016 Berlin Theatertreffen.
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Team

Director: Anna-Sophie Mahler
Stage and costum design: Katrin Connan
Music director: Michael Wilhelmi
Dramaturgy: Benjamin Große, Kathrin Veser