Programme: The Irrepressibles, Santa Ratniece, Gilbert NounoWar Sum Up
Performers: Latvian Radio Choir, conductor Sigvards Kļava, Kirsten Dehlholm (direction), Willie Flindt (libretto)
12 singers and a striking light design that give a powerful visual impression of the nature of war. Follow the Warrior, the Spy and the Soldier through their transformation into a world of light and dark, battle and death. From man to machine, to statue, ghost and fantasy heroine. Three stories in XL of glorification and abomination.
War Sum Up – a Manga Opera on the Nature of War by Kirsten Dehlholm and Willie Flindt
War is as simple and as complicated as man itself. The nature of war is ever-changing, adapting to the era’s usable weapons and to the culture within which it takes place. War develops new technology, new strategies, new opinions.
War Sum Up tells of war through three main characters: The Soldier is sent home from war. He suffers from PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) and he no longer feels at home in civilian society. He returns to the war and dies in an explosion. A monument is raised in his memory. His symptoms and fate exist today.
The Warrior is killed in battle. His unnatural death prevents his soul from a natural transition to the world on the other side. He becomes a spectre, a ghost, who must tell his story in order to find peace. An old superstition which still exists in many cultures.
The Spy is captured in the war. In order to be freed she must relearn her abilities in the martial arts and transform herself. She is transformed into a super-woman and escapes. She is a part of the fantasy-genre and popular culture.
All three stories are framed by the woman in yellow. She is the Gamemaster who begins the war. But she is also the person who perpetually continues working because everyday life must go on as a banality of evil even though there is a war. And she is the Gamemaster, who returns to start a new war.
Each story is intensified and enlarged when the voices of the Civilians are heard, as a large choir. Light and dark, colours and patterns in black and white together with manga drawings in XL format are other intense narrators. The space keeps the scene in a frame that opens up towards the rear at the end of the performance. The music and images drive the story forward while the words which are sung hit the story with the deep tone of poetry.
War Sum Up is inspired by Japanese culture and its powerful expressions of poetry, pop, precision and brutality. This is illustrated through the music, the song texts, the costumes and the universe of images. The libretto is created with texts from Noh-theatre, written by Japanese masters, which are sung in Japanese.
War Sum Up combines several musical expressions and styles. New composed classical music creates a spheric, electronic sound image. Newly written pop-music describes the three characters with a mix of chamber pop and electronica, where man and machine melt together. The old world meets with the new, when old texts unfold in the electronic universe in order to tell the never-ending story of the nature of war.
The man-machine interface, the new environment or computer space, which machine and man inhabit together, is not an extension of the body but a total environment. It is the context for a new corporeal reality, an entirely new world in which war is conducted, a world into which we are sensorially and not only physically incorporated and assimilated. - Christopher Coker,The Future of War (2004)