On first glance, Christoph Schlingensief’s dream of building an opera house in Africa seems presumptuous if not downright questionable, but over the past months, it has taken on concrete form. There are green hills in Burkina Faso, where the plan is going to be turned into reality.
But the green hill of Bayreuth is not the role model. No Gesamtkunstwerk will be beamed from here to Africa, nor will any prestigious music theatre be installed in the savanna. “Remdoogo” means “opera village” in the local language and decribes an organically growing village with a school for up to 500 children, to offer music and film classes as a specialty, with an infirmary, a large-scale kitchen, a rehearsal stage, a central archive, a hotel, a large auditorium for 500 spectators and everything else a project of this kind needs to make it equipped for the future. “The children and adolescents will learn from themselves,” says Schlingensief, “from their own culture and not from whatever we might want to explain or dictate to them. That’s my objective, not to import Wagner or Bach. We will gather together what is already there – and not what Europe has to offer and sell to them.
“My prime motive is ‘to learn from Africa!’ That also means officially robbing from Africa – not unofficially, the way we’ve been doing it up till now.” The first results of these “robbery activities” will be presented this summer in Europe with artists from Burkina Faso as “givers” and artists from Europe as “takers”.
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