Mr. Tukur, on February 2nd, the Alte Oper in Frankfurt will start the new format “Kiezpalast” with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. According to the title, it is a kind of “den of vices” through which you want to take the audience once a season in the future as presenter, actor, singer, pianist and accordion player. What is it about? What can visitors expect?
Well, it’s a walk through the underworlds and half-worlds of Frankfurt, a visit to the catacombs, sewers, mines and caves that lie deep and invisible beneath our feet. And we hear music that hopefully illustrates the opening abyss in a stirring way. I sat down in several sessions with my friend Uli Heissig, who wrote the texts and is also directing, to breathe life into the project. Of course, with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony we have a musical asset that we can use to great advantage. And now we have to make sure that we build a substantial evening from all the material and the musical interludes. The gods know if we will succeed. I hope so. It’s a lot of work to prepare for and it’s actually almost a shame to do just one evening with it.
How did the unusual idea come about? What hopes are associated with this?
Markus Fein, the artistic director of the Alte Oper, whom I got to know and appreciate at the music festivals in Lower Saxony and Mecklenburg, approached me with this project. It was just an idea, he already had the title “Kiezpalast” ready. The neighborhood between the city center, Westend and the station district, which he wanted to capture musically in a format with classical and new music that should also appeal to and inspire younger people who are not necessarily classically affine. For the first issue of the “Kiezpalast” we then agreed on the topic and the title “Underworlds”. And there’s a lot of music too. I was a bit hesitant at first because I didn’t know what to expect. Mr. Fein just worked on me until I finally gave up and agreed. And now I have the salad and I have to see that the choice somehow works out. I’m the emcee who entertains and makes music, but also comes up with facts that should explain the complex world of the underworld a bit. It goes down into the catacombs and hidden hollow chambers with works by Respighi, Wagner, Schönberg or Mussorgski. But there will also be more pleasing pieces by Friedrich Hollaender, Kurt Weill and Gert Wilden.
Is there a special lighting direction or theater effects?
We have relatively few options, of course we work with light and noise. But unfortunately we cannot use any images. There is the fabulous Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra and yours truly. That has to do. Uli Heissig is a cabaret artist. He invented Hildegard Knef’s fictional sister Irmgard and writes very funny, witty texts. He is also a profound connoisseur of classical music. That was very important.
So what kind of underworld types are you going to embody?
A prostitute, a pedophile government councilor, a caretaker who takes care of the heating systems in the opera cellar, and if you know that there are 1,600 kilometers of sewerage shafts below Frankfurt, then you can walk around in the sewage puddles. Who are the people who work down there and keep the faeces from flying in our faces? Do you still remember the manhunt in the sewers of the city of Vienna in 1948 in the wonderful film “The Third Man”? Of the atmospheric zither music by Anton Karas? Then of course there are also very creepy descriptions of the catacombs of Rome and Paris. Or the Clarisse Convent of S. Maria della Consolazione, where the nuns had to study the decomposition process of their deceased sisters, who were strapped to stone chairs, in the cellar vault of the convent at the behest of their abbess, in order to meditate on the transience of earthly existence. You see, it’s going to be a fun evening in the underworld.