The opera by Marina Abramovic and Robert Wilson “The Life and Death of Marina Abramovic” has opened in Madrid this week, to strong reviews. Though some have stated that “parts of the second act drag.” All is forgiven the moment where the artist, playing herself, removes a mask of her own face. This sounds particularly mundane, but actually it is stunning. Both actor Willem Dafoe, in the “crazed, multifarious role of narrator,” and Antony Hegarty of Antony and the Johnsons, who wrote the music, are singled out for high praise in this must see production.
The opera is about the life of Abramovic, a world renowned Serbian artist considered to be “the grandmother of Performance Art”. It is in English, with text by Robert Wilson. Marina Abramovic plays herself, staring in the production. The play shows representative scenes of the artist’s career and is a restating of the event staged in Manchester last spring. The event is currently at the Teatro Real Theatre in Madrid for the 2012 season.
The Life and Death of Marina Abramović is a once in a generation cultural event, starring Marina Abramović and Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe. The event utilises an international cast of actors and performance artists by joining them together in the cause of multimedia art. It follows the sell-out success of Marina Abramović Presents at the MIF in 2009. This was an event which saw the artist leading audiences through an exhilarating four hours of live art at The Whitworth. Her recent show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art attracted hundreds of thousands of visitors. Abramović’s first UK retrospective was held at London’s Lisson Gallery on 13 October last year. Several of the artists featured in Marina Abramović’s opera return as performers in Life and Death.The creative team and cast have been in workshop in Teatro Real’s rehearsal space over the last few weeks. Following the dates in Manchester in 2011 the show will run in Madrid in through April 2012.
Manchester International Festival and Teatro Real Madrid presented the world premiere of this startling new piece for the stage: The Life and Death of Marina Abramović, a biography of the godmother of performance art, re-imagined by visionary director Robert Wilson. The show features scenes from Abramović’s life and career, from her Serbian childhood to her work as a performance artist. Featuring original and traditional music, including songs written and performed by the incomparable Antony (Antony & The Johnsons), this ground-breaking show brings together the worlds of theatre, art and music to thrilling effect. This is the first Robert Wilson production seen in the UK since The Temptation of St. Anthony in 2005. Robert Wilson came to last years Manchester Festival for his first UK show in five years, to bring Marina and Antony back to Manchester following their appearances there in 2009. ‘The Life and Death of Marina Abramović’ is a good expression of what MIF was created for – new work made by some of the world’s leading artists.’ Alex Poots, Festival Director The opera art form needs to develop new ways forward for the future. This could mean, of course, new composers but also projects developed by great visual artists, actors or singers who do not necessarily need to be opera singers. For sure, Antony, for example, brings a lyricism that in conjunction with Bob Wilson and Marina Abramović will make this production a real opera, just as Monteverdi would have loved. Gerard Mortier, Artistic Director, Teatro Real Madrid Marina Abramovic has spent 40 years pushing her own mental and physical limits.
The 64-year-old Abramović is starring alongside Hollywood actor Willem Dafoe in this stage event about her life and her imagined death. In this production she will utilize three coffins. One will contain her real body and two will contain fakes. No-one will realise which is real. They will be buried simultaneously in her home city of Belgrade, Serbia, plus Amsterdam and New York. Abramovic is a living artwork who puts herself in extreme situations in order to “light up parts of our life that we rarely explore,. She explains.