Material Battle of 1914 / Flight over Siberia/ Conversation

6 Dec 1993
News & Stories
Heiner Müller
Heiner Müller


Heiner Müller was invited to a conference in Japan on the fate of opera in the 20th and 21st century. He talks about his flight over Siberia and his fascination with this "giant ridge" that he characterizes as the "Asian time preserve of Russia." This is followed by thoughts about the past, present and future of opera and theater. He thinks that in earlier times opera could be a vessel for utopia, but now it is like a fraudulent enterprise: "When everything has been said, the voices become soft and then the opera comes." The traditional Japanese puppet show, the Bunraku, is a future form of theater for Müller because opera and theater find their way back to each other.In an intermediary sequence the composer Wolfgang Rihm reports about his work with Heiner Müller on musical theater and the adaption of the piece "Hamlet Machine."The conversation between Müller and Kluge continues with a strange story: the false pregnancy of Blücher, the General in World War I, which was a way of working through the battle in Ligny. Through this anecdote the interview returns to Japanese theater and a piece in which an actor plays both male and female roles. Müller is of the opinion that theater has suffered a loss through the gender-specific disciplining of roles. Müller believes that this disciplining of the theater can be countered by integrating opera into theater as a "female genre."An important theme of the conference in Japan was cultural exchange, which Müller polemicized against with a parable from Brazil that critically interrogates the importation of European culture. The discussion then turns to the irrational hopes that were and are inspired by turns of the century. With a quotation from the Fatzer fragment from Brecht, Müller tries to describe the most recent breaks and the ideas that were connected with them: "Ghosts used to come from the past, now they also come from the future."The discussion ends with thoughts about gas warfare and the animalistic fear that it causes in those who are affected. Asked about what he took from his experiences in Japan, Müller reports abut the impressive number of characters in the Japanese language.