Where the lyrical meets the logical
Charles Boer & Jonathan Hart Makwaia


Jonathan Hart Makwaia, Inki Storleer & Ian Magilton


Thanks to support from the Fond for Lyd og Bilde and TeaterAvant Garden in Norway; the Conseil Générale du Gard and the Centre Artistique International Roy Hart in France; and LaMaMa ETC in New York we had our premiere in Trondheim. The reception and the reviews were good, but with just six days of rehearsal together there were a lot of weaknesses.

Since then we have developed the orchestrations and execution of the music to the highest possible level for a sound recording, produced by Mikkel Storleer Eriksen at the famous Stargate Studios in New York. This is an incredible opportunity, and the sales and promotion via the cd will build interest for the stage performance.

Wittgenstein & the Soprano began six years ago as my attempt to give something back to Jonathan, but he had too many projects on at that time to write the music. Since then other artists have offered their talent and time to the project, but finally, when we were close to giving up, Jonathan said that he could do it - A typically Roy Hart Theatre slow maturation! and slowly we are producing something very beautiful.

Wittgenstein was an impossible mixture of heroism, ethics, aesthetics, entertainment and tragedy. Our opera is equally impossible - Une Commédie Philosophique!

Hear some of it

See a tiny video of extracts:

or a bigger one:

April in New York

Inki and I are in New York with Jonathan to make a recording of Wittgenstein & the Soprano and to prepare for performances here in the autumn.

The recording will be produced at the famous Stargate by Inki's son Mikkel Storleer Eriksen (their current hit, Rihanna's "Rude Boy" has been at number one on the American charts for five(!) weeks already). This is an amazing possibility for us and a great gift from Mikkel, because he is in big demand (JayZ, Beyonce, Ne-yo etc. etc.) Our first session together had to be postponed because of a visit to Stargate by the Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg. Now after two recording sessions I can tell you that Mikkel is a generous genius and Inki is in top form for him.

We are rehearsing at LaMama and yesterday we were working on the very stage where twenty five years ago Jonathan, Rossignol Linda and myself played our first opera, Pagliacci. I wasn't sure at first, because it is now a cabaret stage, but there it was, the cleaner square on the parquet floor that Maeda sanded for us - one of the best scenic designs I have ever worked in. There were even traces of the white line I used to paint on the front edge of that sanded square in every show, and wash off after. I must have missed these traces after the last show of the run and someone varnished them over. Jonathan and I were quite moved. I want us to perform it there in the autumn, but Jonathan has maybe a better idea. There is a performing space in the West Village which houses Paul Wittgenstein's own piano. The Wittgenstein brothers both fought in the first world war and whereas Ludwig, in between trying to get himself killed, wrote his famous 'Tractatus Logico Philosophicus' in the trenches, Paul, a concert pianist lost his right hand. After the war he commissioned, and performed the even more famous 'Piano Concerto for the Left Hand' by Ravel. We are hoping to perform Wittgenstein & the Soprano with this same piano.

I had dinner with our long-standing friends Charles (Boer) and Cindy (Sebrell). He is the poet, playwright, translator and trouble-maker that came up with the crazy idea of Wittgenstein in the first place (he wrote the libretto before we had time to say no). Cindy is a producer of international cultural events and muse to several of Charles' poems (his soprano I dared to suggest to him) They love what we are doing and were thrilled by the whole constellation of events: Stargate, JayZ, Prime Minister, LaMama, Paul Wittgenstein's piano…. Cindy offered to be our agent for the autumn shows in New York - she'll get us moving!

"First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin."

Ian Magilton
25 April 2010

Avril à New York

Aujourd'hui, Inki et moi sommes à New York avec Jonathan pour faire un enregistrement de Wittgenstein & the Soprano et de préparer des spectacles ici en automne.

L'enregistrement sera produit au célèbre Stargate Studios par le fils d'Inki, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen (leur 'tube' courante, "Rude Boy" de Rihanna est le numéro un aux Etats Unis depuis cinq(!) semaines déjà). C'est une chance inuit pour nous et un cadeau énorme de Mikkel, parce qu'il est très demandé (JayZ, Beyonce, Ne-yo etc. etc.) Notre première séance devrait être annulé à cause d'une visite à Stargate par le premier Ministre Norwegien, Jens Stoltenberg. Maintenant, après deux sessions d'enregistrement, je peux vous assurer que Mikkel est un génie très généreux et que Inki est en pleine forme pour lui.

Nous faisons nos répétitions à LaMamma et hier nous travaillions sur l'exacte scène où il y a vingt cinq ans Linda, Rossignol, Jonathan et moi avons joué notre premier opéra, Pagliacci. Au premier vu je m'en douté parce que c'est café théâtre maintenant, mais ça y est! le carré plus claire sur le parquet que Maeda nous a poncé - un des meilleurs scènographies dans duquel j'ai jamais travaillé. Il y avait même des traces de la ligne blanche que je peignais sur la bordure avant de ce carré dans chaque spectacle, et que j'enlever après. J'ai du manqué ses traces après notre dernier spectacle et quelqu'un a du les passé une couche de vernis. Jonathan et moi étions assez touchés. Moi, je veux jouer Wittgenstein là cet automne, mais Jonathan a peut être une meilleure idée: Il y a dans le West Village 'a concert space' dans laquelle reste le piano de Paul Wittgenstein. Les frères Wittgenstein ont tout les deux battu dans la première guerre mondiale, et tandis que Ludwig, entre ses efforts de se faire tuer, écrivait son célèbre 'Tractatus Logico Philisophicus' dans les tranchés, Paul, un concertiste de piano a perdu sa main droite. Après la guerre il a commandé et joué le plus célèbre encore, 'Concerto pour la main gauche' de Ravel. Nous espérons jouer Wittgenstein and the Soprano avec ce même piano.

J'ai diné avec nos bons vieux amis, Charles (Boer) and Cindy (Sebrell). Lui c'est poète, dramaturge, traducteur et trouble-fête qui a trouvé l'idée folle de Wittgenstein au départ (il a écrit la libretto même avant que nous avons eu le temps de dire 'non'.) Cindy est productrice d'actions culturel, international et muse à plusieurs des poèmes de Charles (son soprano, j'osais lui suggérer). Ils adorent notre projet et étaient éblouis par toute la constellation: Stargate, JayZ, Premier ministre, LaMamma, le piano de Paul Wittgenstein… Cindy s'est proposé d'être notre promotrice pour les spectacles à New York en automne - Elle nous fera bouger!

"First we take Manhattan, then we take Berlin."

Ian Magilton
25 avril 2010