Hermann Nitsch was invited by the Bayreuth Festival to provide scenic accompaniment to a concert version of Richard Wagner’s “Walküre” in the summer of 2021. For this purpose, the artist has created an extensive painting campaign for each of the three acts. A large part of the resulting works will be on display for the first time at the nitsch museum in the course of the exhibition “Hermann Nitsch – BAYREUTH Walküre” from 10 October 2021.
At the centre of Nitsch’s Gesamtkunstwerk (total work of art) is the Orgies Mysteries Theatre, into which all the artist’s endeavours culminate. Everything Nitsch creates, thinks, writes, paints, draws, stages or composes serves to further develop this basic idea. It is about presence, immediacy, intensity, abreaction and catharsis. For the Orgies Mysteries Theatre, Nitsch has expanded the common concept of theatre. The separation between stage and auditorium is abolished, making everyone present a participant in the play who can experience the events directly and with all five senses. With the concept of the Orgies Mysteries Theatre and the actions that many saw as radical, Hermann Nitsch revolutionised the concept of theatre in the 20th century.
The performing arts have exerted a great fascination on Hermann Nitsch ever since his youth. For this reason, in addition to realising his own actions, he has repeatedly followed the call of renowned opera houses and theatres and has participated in productions of others. Among other things, he was responsible for the scenic conception, stage design and set of Jules Massenet’s “Hérodiade” at the Vienna State Opera in 1995. In 2011, he staged “Saint Francois d’Assise” by Olivier Messiaen at the Bavarian State Opera. Nitsch’s participation in the production of Richard Wagner’s “Parsifal” at the Vienna State Opera was also discussed in 1998, but did not materialise. This makes the invitation from Bayreuth all the more significant for the artist, who is a great admirer of Wagner’s work.
“wagner has fascinated me all my life. because of this wonderful, indulgent, sensual music, which makes the sound blossom beyond the melody. even in its earliest forms of performance, art was connected with cult, religion and the gesamtkunstwerk. and wagner is the uncoverer of the gesamtkunstwerk. he made it shine.” – Hermann Nitsch
All three acts of the “Walküre” are accompanied by a self-contained painting action, in which the score is transformed scene by scene into luminous colours with the help of ten painting assistants. In the process, up to 1,000 litres of paint are spilled per performance. In this production in Bayreuth, two giants of the Gesamtkunstwerk merge.
“it’s not that i’m setting up a staging that corresponds to the walküre, but i’m performing a painting action that probably has something to do indirectly with richard wagner’s colourful, broadly expansive music. my love of wagner’s music has always intoxicated me. the painting processes are meant to be like music. sounds become colours and wagner’s score lures me into choosing my colours.” – Hermann Nitsch
The resulting floor and wall splatter paintings form the basis for a cross-disciplinary overall installation that will be on display in the exhibition hall in Mistelbach starting in October 2021. In addition, the exhibition will showcase the entire original recording of the dress rehearsal from Bayreuth, the rights to which are held in Austria by Hermann Nitsch. The cross-room installation in the nitsch museum is a harbinger of the 6-day play in Prinzendorf, which will take place in July 2022.