Giant applause for singing summiteers
The singing summiteers of the Matterhorn conquer the hearts of the St. Gallen audience: „Matterhorn“, the first musical by Albert Hammond, celebrated in presence of the composer an acclaimed world-premiere on saturday.
The musical plays in Zermatt in the year 1865, in front of the scenery of the Matterhorn, in the stage-set reflected in a mountain lake. Main protagonist is the youthful Englishman Edward Whymper, played and sung convincing by Oedo Kuipers, who wants to defeat the Matterhorn as the first person.
The expedition, set in scene dramatically by director Shekar Kapur succeeded. Whymper and his rope-team reach the peak of the four-thousander before their competitors from Italy. But shortly after Whymper sung of his triumph „near the heaven“, three mountaineers fall at the descent. A torn rope saves Whymper`s life.
Songwriter Albert Hammond combined different music-styles for „Matterhorn“. From Rap and Hip Hop, Rock and Pop, Chansons to Classic and Folk. After the rather well-behaved prelude with native sounds („I stay faithful to Zermatt“) and Alphorn the play gains in intensity and musical pep.
The music, played by a live-band jumps, tuned precisely on the act, back and forth skillfully between styles and moods. The song „More Success“, in which the hotel owner couple (Patricia Hodell and Ramin Dustdar) hope for a tourist-boom because of the Matterhorn ascent, belongs to the musical delicacies. The hotel-personnel performs a funny dance number (choreography by Jonathan Huor) to it.
Albert Hammond, who, in the end stepped on stage together with author Michael Kunz, was celebrated by the premiere audience. For singers, the dance-ensemble and the musicians there was long-lasting applause.
As „mountains“ serve projections of black&white drawings, following the historic Eward Whymper, who came to Zermatt as a draftsman. These pictures effectively support the scenes on the mountain. Differently pale the obligatory, but timid love story between Whymper and the rope-manufacturer`s daughter Oliva (Lisa Antoni) appears.
As a counterpart to the mountaineers ruthless ambition and hunger for success, repeatedly the mysterious „mountain-goddess“ Orka appears, sung and played fascinatingly by Sabrina Weckerlin. Orka stands for nature, holistic nature, destiny and death.
More than a mountaineer-drama
Author Michael Kunze wanted to write more than a historic mountaineer-drama. „Matterhorn“ deals with the highly topical conflict between man and nature, he explained. Also greed for success is „a problem of our time and society“.
As a stroke of luck director Shekhar Kapurs, who is known in India also as an environmentalist, shows. He sees a metaphor in the play for „what`s going on around the world, what we do to our planet“, the 72-year said. He wants to look behind things. Art is rebellion for him, „to show what could be“.
This signature becomes visible in the production. „Matterhorn“ ends thoughtful. Whymper conquered the mountain though. But a true hero he becomes after taking on the responsibility for the death of the three fallen mountaineers.
The three-section-Theater St. Gallen profiled itself as a musical stage in 2009 and placed in orders to composers and librettists. „The Count Of Monte Christo“ was followed by „Moses“, „Artus“ and „Don Camillo and Peppone“ With „Matterhorn“ the theater counts on a swiss topic for the first time.