Hitler ja Blondi: kolmetoista laulua diktaattorille, saksanpaimenkoiralle ja pianolle
Hitler and Blondi: A Musicalised, Postdramatic Theatre Performance
This article examines how music explores the central concepts of the postdramatic theatre work Hitler ja Blondi: kolmetoista laulua diktaattorille, saksanpaimenkoiralle ja pianolle (“Hitler and Blondi: Thirteen Songs for a Dictator, a German Shepherd and one Piano”), a co-production of the TTT-theatre in Tampere (premiered 19 Feb, 2020) and the Finnish National Theatre in Helsinki (fall season 2021). Due to COVID-19 restrictions several performances were postponed, and the commercial live recording was released for private use. Michael Baran’s non-linear script consists of both documentary and fictional texts throughout 13 scenes (called “songs”), a prologue and an epilogue. Some periods of the dictator’s life are narrated as monologues. Hitler’s role is especially written for a blond, elderly Finnish actress, Seela Sella, who is Jewish herself. The music is designed and composed by Juhani Nuorvala and Juhani Liimatainen with Kyösti Kallio as sound engineer. Since the cornerstones of the performance’s structure, aesthetics and theatrical means are transcoded from musical sign system, Hitler ja Blondi is approached as a musicalised theatre work.
The fundamental poetic idea of Hitler ja Blondi is the dialectic counterpoint between fascism and its opposing ideologies and aesthetics – represented musically through the opposed aesthetics of Richard Wagner and Karlheinz Stockhausen. Furthermore, the structure of the script resembles German Lied cycles, and the chained occurrences of Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke correspond to the recurrent refrain in rondo form. In general, the music and its large intertextual network is one of the performance’s central narrative means, and it opens up the potential for interpretation. Drawing from the recent theories and methodologies of music analysis and theatre studies, this article focuses on discussing 1) how popular songs and Stockhausen’s Klavierstücke extend the performance’s temporalities, thereby expressing the timelessness of fascism; 2) how the music presents Hannah Arendt’s view of the banality of evilness in Nuorvala’s Puolueohjelmalaulu (“The Song of Nazy Party’s Program”); and 3) how the author of this article experiences the dialectic counterpoint differently through life performance, and through the video recording.