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Sensing the actor’s fate, contemporary Polish author Helmut Kajzar reveals the entanglement of an individual with himself and in his societal situation. He has selected the figure of an actress, to clarify a general manifestation; we all play roles offered to us by an imaginary casting agency outside of us, thus thwarting our own identity. In The Star, clothing represents characteristics which the actress pictures to herself, turning her into a queen, a noble maiden – yet at the same time preventing her from finding herself – and that inability to find herself leads to deterioration of her personality and ultimately to the death of her soul. Yet physically she lives on, apparently enabling her at first to continue to exist – but even becoming a mother, bearing an actual child, can no longer be assumed as a way of renewing herself against that existential background. This voided life is presented through a variety of roles which lead their own unconnected lives.
I was never interested in opera; this is my first work in the genre. It is about a woman, an actress. I love women onstage; I think there can never be enough of them. The actresses’ world is especially intriguing, mysterious and exciting to me. The libretto is cast in in the form of a monologue, to make the onstage situations more precise. That is why I decided to leave a rather wide scope for freedom of interpretation in Die Kleider. I wanted the people making the piece – especially the director – to find their own, appropriate form for the opera. So the score is not precisely laid down in many of its details; there is room for various options of stage interpretation and musical realisation. One example: the main soloist’s part is set down in the score, but the other five roles can be freely distributed among female singers according to the director’s concept. All the vocal parts are composed so they can be used in situations which I can only presume – that means that they are written for onstage situations which the director must first invent. Nevertheless, for me it was a matter of course that the music, the sung voices develop the libretto’s essential fragments, corresponding to the performers’ characters.
Excerpts from the program notes of the world première at Nationaltheater Mannheim 1982