‘Die Insel’ (‘The Island’) is a multi-sensory music-theater piece where different modalities of perception; music, spoken word, sign language, movement, light, video, vibration are intertwined and tactility becomes the common ground. As an ensemble of blind, hearing, sighted and deaf artists, [in]operabilities is an artistic research project in contemporary music theatre that links the art form of opera with the question of its accessibility. In the canon and cosmos of opera, artists and interdisciplinary researchers search for forms of multisensory music-making and encounter – for collective and individual “opera-abilities”.

“Die Insel” is inspired by the opera “Rinaldo and Alcina” by the composer Maria Theresia von Paradis. As a blind musician, she caused a sensation 300 years ago. Her music however has been lost. Based on the surviving libretto, this ensemble of blind, hearing, sighted and d/Deaf artists have created their own composition of “Rinaldo and Alcina” using sound, vibration, gestures, light, touch, and sung audio descriptions, developing multi-sensory forms of musical experience. ‘Die Insel’ premiered on March 13th at Kampnagel, Hamburg. It goes on to Radialsystem, Berlin (sold out) and will tour again in 2025, through Basel and Zürich.

The piece is spoken in German, as well as in German sign language, with sung audio descriptions and subtitles. At the beginning of all performances, there is an introduction by the artists with an integrated touch tour as a sensory presentation of the stage for blind and visually impaired audiences.

Direction & Libretto Benjamin van Bebber • Musical direction Leo Hofmann • Performance & co-development Athena Lange, Sophia Neises, Marie Sophie Richter and Leo Hofmann • Light & space Ladislav Zajac • Objects & sounding costumes Ludmila Rodrigues • Dramaturgy Franziska Henschel • Co-direction Jeanne Charlotte Vogt • Sign language dramaturgy Susanne Tod • Access dramaturgy & audio description Caro Jüngst & Naomi Sanfo • Assistant director Emil Leske • Assistant costume & objects Sofia Chionidou • Sign language interpreters Christina Müller, Ronja Hollenbach, Nicole Ostrycharczyk, and Marie-Wilhelmine Schaper

Ludmila Rodrigues thanks Benjamin, Leo, Jeanne, Franz, Laci and the whole creative team; thanks also to the Costume Company and Fabulous St Pauli fablab.

[in]operabilities is supported by the Fonds Darstellende Künste with funds from the Bundesregierung für Kultur und Medien and by the Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, Behörde für Kultur und Medien. “Die Insel” is a co-production with Kampnagel and is also supported by the Swiss cultural foundation Pro Helvetia, the City of Zurich, the Landis & Gyr Foundation, the Hamburgische Kulturstiftung, the Rusch Foundation, the Schweizer Interpretenstiftung and the Rudolf Augstein Foundation.

Read more on inoperabilities.net. Photos by Robin Hinsch.

March 16, 2024