The Klingon are known as passionate opera-lovers.
However very little is known about their highly evolved form of musical expression here on earth.
Floris Schönfeld has managed to lay his hands on some fragments of a masterpiece of the batlh jachlut or Honorable Battle opera.
Its title is ‘u’, which can be translated as ‘universe’ or ‘universal’. It will be the basis for the opera ‘u’, the first complete, authentic Klingon opera here on earth.
Klingon opera uses the principle of musical combat. Beauty in Klingon music comes from the impact of two opposing forces. To quote a well known Klingon proverb qa’ wIje ‘meH masuv or ‘We fight to enrich the spirit.’ The Klingon orchestra is made up of various indigenous Klingon instruments, some that have never been heard on earth before. The Terran Klingon Research Ensemble has been set up further develop a coherent Klingon musical practice amongst human musicians.
The libretto of ‘u’ is based on the epos of Kahless the unforgettable. Betrayed by his brother and witness to his father’s brutal slaying, Kahless is pitted against his bitter enemy the mighty tyrant Molor. To regain his honor he must travel into the underworld, create the first Bat’leth, be united with his true love the lady Lukara and fight many epic battles. Through this awe inspiring adventure Kahless redefines what it is to be truly Klingon. With the help of Marc Okrand, the worlds leading Klingon language expert, we have managed to piece together the stories in their original epic-poetic form for the first time.
The project ‘u’ has been running for about two years now. In this time the KTRE and Floris Schönfeld have given numerous performances and lecture in The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam, as well as being invited to the artist-in-residence program of Robert Wilson’s Watermill Center in New York. The premiere of the opera is planned for September this year on the location of the Celestial Vault, a land art piece by James Turrell in Kijkduin.
The good people behind ‘u’ are:
Floris Schönfeld (head researcher and artistic leader)
Patricia Lawlis (U.S. Tour Manager and Opera Dramaturge)
Eef van Breen (composition)
Xavier van Wersch (musical theory and instruments)
Erik Kouwenhoven (mentor)
Piia Maria (set and costume design)
Celine Buren (dramaturgy)
Marc Okrand and Kees Ligtelijn (libretto)
Klingon Terran Research Ensemble
Henri van Zanten (Master of the Scream)
Niels Meliefste (percussion)
Anne La Berge (wind)
James Hewitt (strings)
Research on improvisation structures and vocal technique by Thomas Johannsen
‘u’ is produced by The Hague
Guido van Hulzen (production manager)
Pool Worldwide (online campaign)
Joris Favié (online communication)
Studio ‘t Brandweer (print)
‘u’ was developed in part at the Watermill Center for the Performing Arts in Watermill NY
‘u’ is made possible by: NFPK, Gemeente Den Haag, VSB Fonds, SNS Reaal Fonds, Fonds BKVB, Stroom Den Haag