Since ancient times, the relationship between the Orient and Occident has been one of competition and war, as well as exchange and admiration. Following the crushing military defeat of the Ottoman Empire outside of Vienna in 1683, European culture began to assert its power and supremacy. Mozart’s opera “The Abduction from the Seraglio” (1782) glaringly reflected the relationship between the West and the Orient and its depiction in the Western art world since the 18th century. The famous singspiel and many other works of that time draw on historical images of Western orientalism which alternatingly highlight the cruelty, wisdom or ridiculousness of Oriental culture. These clichés and hegemonial narratives continue to live on in the opera repertory – often absent of any critical reflection.
How can the opera “system” open itself up to new ideas, and how can we create new traditions? Based on Mozart’s work, the project “Beyond the Seraglio” aims to reconstruct the multifaceted interrelationships of the Orient and Occident and overcome what is frequently antagonistic perceptions. International artists, writers and musicians are invited to explore and present the cultural richness of this mutual relationship, as well as offer alternative outlooks. The focus of the project will be a new stage adaptation and production of Mozart’s opera by the Turkish playwright Aslı Erdoğan and the Belgian stage director Luk Perceval. This major production by the Theater Mannheim will be accompanied by a variety of other projects, e.g. “Paradise Garden”, a lecture by the French writer Mathias Enard, the “Oriental Salon” with concerts and discussions, the performance of the operetta “Ayse” by Muhlis Sabahattin Ezgi (1925), the “West-Eastern Diwan” with a transcultural concert by the Pera Ensemble, and “Machines of Enlightenment”, an exhibition on music machines produced in collaboration with the “Norient” platform. The garden, salon and exhibition will be publicly accessible to ensure participation by a broad audience.
Artistic directors: Jan Dvorak, Albrecht Puhlmann
Artists: Ariel Ashbel & Friends, Theresa Beyer / Norient, Asli Erdoğan, Thomas Fiedler, Haz’art-Trio und Fityan, Luc Perceval and others