On the Edge of Metropolis
My inspiration for this ballet is from the 1925 novel “Metropolis,” written by Thea von Harbou. As I started to work on adapting a ballet from the novel, I realized how current and relevant the story is today. In today’s society, the majority of the human race is still working in difficult conditions. They are the masses working to create a high level of living enjoyed by only a few of the elite and extremely rich.
The “futuristic" story of Metropolis also addresses the high industrial discipline and technology that are part of today’s rapidly developing computer technology. It is now part of our daily life. Yesterday’s dreams are today’s reality.
Unfortunately, we all are part of this seemingly heartless, unstoppable, and always-hungry system. A system which is represented in Metropolis by the machines deep beneath the city.
The creation of a “Maschinenmensch” an artificial intelligence human-like robot has long been a dream of science. This too, is being realized today. For example, recently a Hong Kong-based company created Sophia, a humanoid robot developed to think and talk on her own. The benefits and concerns that accompany this new unstoppable technological creation are something that the human population will soon have to face. It raises many questions about which direction we must go.
The stage and costume design of the ballet are presented in a Futurist style with Art Deco elements.
The musical arrangement corresponds to the two-society narrative. For the underground Metropolis machinery, I have chosen more electronic sounds from today’s living composers. The governing high society is accompanied by a more classical selection- music such as Bach, Debussy and Ravel.
But for me the story has many layers. Every character has his or her own development. In one of the leading roles, Joh Fredersen is a father that has buried his guilt of his wife’s death during childbirth by becoming the master of the city of Metropolis. Through the story he finally finds peace with his son and the workers and reconciles with his loss.
Maria, who is a symbol of love and a biblical-like character, announces the coming of a new savior she calls the Mediator, who will save all the poor by connecting the upper and lower classes.
Rotwang is the genius inventor whose rejection by Joh Fredersen’s wife, “Hel,” compels him to build a human robot- which is eventually manipulated into a copy of Maria. “Hel” becomes the femme fatale in this apocalyptic fantasy and through her devilish artificial intelligence helps sow the seeds of revolution and anarchy.
And Freder, the son of Joh Fredersen, falls deeply in love with Maria, and becomes the Mediator that brings the troubled poor and the rich together.
In the end, deep kindness and love is the winner in this futuristic fairytale-like fantasy. Compassion is the key to balance our society. Only then can we develop into a fair, prosperous human race that has an endless future.
It has been 93 years since Thea von Harbou’s prescient novel- which was set in the year 2026. We actually find ourselves at the brink of the world in which she described, grappling with many of the same concepts and issues.
Contemporary story ballet in one act based on Thea von Harbou book.
Created for The Croatian National Ballet in Zagreb
Premiere 03.11.2018, Zagreb, Croatia
Music: Mason Bates, Ben Salisbury & Geoff Barrow, Johann Sebastian Bach, Aphex Twin, Gotfried Huppertz, Brian Eno, Alban Berg, Fernando Corona-Murcof, Maurice Ravel, John Cage, Claude Debussy, Gabriel Fauré, Nitin Sawhney, Johann Sebastian Bach, Nico Muhly and Evan Peter Mass & Shawn Carter
Choreography, Staging and Musical arrangement Jiři Bubeniček
Dramaturgy Jiři Bubeniček and Nadina Cojocaru
Set design and Video projections Otto Bubeniček
Costume design Nadina Cojocaru
Light design Deni Šesnić
Choreographer assistent Jubal Battisti
Joh Fredersen, Ruler of Metropolis
and Freder Father: Tomislav Petranović
Freder Fredersen: Kornel Palinko
Maria: Natalia Kosovac
Evil Maria and Hel, The Robot: Iva Vitić Gameiro
Rotwang and The Inventor: Takuya Sumitomo
The Thin Man and Fredersen's Spy: Guilherme Gameiro Alves
Josaphat: Gianomarco Beoni