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Julie Comparini

Contralto. Early and new music.

Interdisciplinary theater projects.

Photo: Gloria
Photo: Gloria

Who hasn't dreamed of someday being a star? Celebrity life promises success, riches, and the adulation of millions -- but it comes at a price. The fourth Musikfilmfestival Bremen will explore the dark underbelly of fame from February 7th to 13th, 2019 in ten biographical, documentary, feature, silent and experimental films.

The title of Saturday's "surprise" film has to be kept secret for now, unlike the lives of its protagonists, who succumb to the pressures of fame (Feb. 9th.) An 11-year-old singer wonders if her new friends are really interested in her, or just latching onto her new-found status (Bente's Voice, Feb. 7th), while an elderly playboy realizes that his reputation has made aging gracefully impossible (Casanova Variations, Feb. 9th). Gloria shows what happens when systematic abuse in the music industry is taken for granted (Feb. 8th). The musicians in The Great Hip Hop Hoax (Feb. 8th) and Korla (Feb.7th) find themselves forced to make radical changes in their public identities, with very different outcomes, while Mathangi/Maya/M.I.A. (Feb. 9th) risks her success in order to stay true to her message. German singer-songwriter Gundermann was also an idealist, but one who ended up working for the wrong side (Feb. 10th, with screenwriter Laila Stieler). All of these themes come together in the special screening of the original 1925 silent film The Phantom of the Opera in St. Stephani, accompanied live by church organist Tim Günther. In the end, like the children in Russlands Wunderkinder (Feb. 7th and 8th), we may find ourselves asking: Was it worth the price of fame?

All films will be screened in City46 (Birkenstraße 1, 28195 Bremen) except The Phantom of the Opera in the Kulturkirche St. Stephani.
More information and the complete program available at the Musikfilmfestival Website.

Photo © Felix Patzelt
Photo © Felix Patzelt

Bertolt Brecht was one of the most influential German poets and playwrights of the 20th century. Collaborative projects with musicians and composers were an integral part of his work. Many of Brecht's texts question the role of the individual in society. What is a person worth? From what source do people draw their sense of self-worth? What happens in a society where people's worth goes unrecognized? "Auf ein Wort" features song settings by Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau on these and related themes.

Julie Comparini, voice
Alexander Seemann, piano and accordeon
Felix Patzelt, guitar

Friday, November 23, 2018, 20:00
etage° Bremen
Herdentorsteinweg 37
28195 Bremen

Admission: 14 € / 8 € pre-sale, 18 € / 12 € at the door
Tickets available from Nordwest Ticket and Eventim.
More information

Photo: Cosima Hanebeck

The postwar years were a period of economic and social mobility. Radio and television broadcasts brought music from around the world into German homes and new technologies made it possible to travel around the world in style. And so the German "Nachkriegsschlager" -- and the German tourist -- were born.

Bremerhaven became not only a port of exit for transatlantic passage, but a tourist destination -- which it still aims to be today.

Fernweh Bremerhaven explores Bremerhaven's past and present role as a tourist destination in interviews, discussions, and a musical journey through the "wonder years."

Forum der Arbeitnehmerkammer
Barkhausenstraße 16, 27568 Bremerhaven

Michael Frost, Superintendant of Education and Culture, Bremerhaven
Dr. Marion Salot, Economic Policy Consultant, Arbeitnehmerkammer

Julie Comparini, voice
Eva Huck, cello
Susanne Peuker, guitar
Matthias Entrup, percussion

Dr. Dominik Santner, Arbeitnehmerkammer

Free admission
More information

Photo: Gabi Bartels

In the garden of the imperial court in China, a nightingale sings and enchants all who hear. One day, a toy nightingale comes to the court as a gift, and the real bird is chased away. But when Death comes to fetch the empress, only the real nightingale is able to oust him.

Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Nightingale inspired this "opera in a nutshell" for children and their families. Using music by Georg Philipp Telemann and a newly-commissioned libretto, Ensemble Sospiri Ardenti revives the baroque tradition of the pasticcio opera for modern audiences.

The Nightingale will be making its debut at the Leipziger Bachfest in June 2018 with three performances (in German) presented by "bach für uns" and the Leipziger Schulkonzerte.

Photo: Gabi Bartels
Photo: Gabi Bartels

Friday, June 15th, 9:00 und 11:00
for schoolchildren and Bachfest visitors
Saturday, June 16th, 11:00
for everyone age 8 and up
Musikschule Leipzig
Petersstraße 43, 04109 Leipzig
Tickets: €11,00 adults, €4,50 children (-12)

Ensemble Sospiri Ardenti
Ellen Delahanty, soprano
Julie Comparini, alto
Geert van Gele, recorder and harpsichord
Jurgen Debruyn, lute instruments

More Information and Tickets

By Eileen Jahn

Die Leuchte Asiens

The 1925 silent film The Light of Asia (Prem Sanyas or Die Leuchte Asiens) was the highlight of the 2017 Musikfilmfestival in Bremen. India's first international coproduction as well as the first ever German-Indian co-production, the film offers a unique look into the long-vanished world of India in the 1920s. For the 2017 festival, the Musikfilmfestival Bremen commissioned a new soundtrack by celebrated world musician Willy Schwarz and composer Riccardo Castagnola that combines classical Indian music with contemporary electronics and creates a musical bridge between history and cultures.

Photo: Willy Schwarz
Photo: Willy Schwarz

The project has now found its way "home": on January 18, 2018, the film was presented with the new soundtrack and live music by Willy Schwarz at the Goethe Institute in Chennai (Madras) in India to an audience that included professional musicians, film critics and Dr Helmut Schipper, director of the Goethe Institute in Chennai. Further performances in India are in planning. We at the Musikfilmfestival are thrilled that this project is traveling around the world. The next chance to see the film will be at the international Berlinale film festival. Willy Schwarz and Julie Comparini will be present for the screening on February 17th.

Musikfilmfestival Bremen
Berlinale Screenings

Multimedia concert
A Fotokunst Bremen production
Sunday, October 1st, 2017, 7:00 pm
Kultursaal der Arbeitnehmerkamer, Bürgerstraße 1, 28195 Bremen

Photo: Library of Congress
Photo: Library of Congress

Long unconquered by humankind, the sea is the birthplace of a rich multitude of myths and legends. Its more sinister side inspired many Romantic-era poets and artists, both serving as a metaphor for unpredictable and often brutal emotional states and being a source of very real danger. Sailors, fishermen, adventurers and travellers alike often perished in its depths, as the vast number of shipwrecks still rotting on the ocean floor can attest to. There live, according to ancient legends, the fantastic creatures of the deep: nymphs, mermaids, sea monsters, or kings and queens of sunken continents in their glass-walled underwater palaces. These eerie and mythical worlds illustrate, in abstract form, our primal fear of the sea.

At the beginning lush and poetical, the musical works in this programme gradually evolve into ominous fantasies and realistic images of the sea's hidden perils.

Andrea Lauren Brown, Manja Stephan, Anna Terterjan, soprano
Nina Böhlke, Julie Comparini, Kerstin Stöcker, contralto
Barbara Kler, piano
Musical Direction: Julie Comparini
Visuals: Peter Schenk

Reservations: 0421-3 63 01-970 / anmeldung@arbeitnehmerkammer.de
More information

Website renovations have been finished! Here it is with a new look, new photos, and new features (projects and video). Have a look around and if anything doesn’t work, please feel free to send an email to Julie Comparini. Thanks!

Foto © Felix Patzelt
Foto © Felix Patzelt

N.B. If you're using an antiquated browser (i.e. Internet Explorer 8, 9, or earlier), some site features will work sub-optimally or not at all. If that is the case, we highly recommend switching to a modern browser -- not only to use this site, but in the interest of your own Internet safety in general. If you're using a recent version of Firefox, Chrome, Safari or Internet Explorer and are experiencing problems with this site, we would love to hear about it so that we can correct the problem. Thank you!

The "Stadtteil-Oper" Menuchims Reise

Osterholz-Tenever may not be Bremen's most glamorous neighborhood, but it is home to an extraordinary opera project that brings the students of the Gesamtschule-Ost together with the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, the women of the Mütterzentrum, refugees living in temporary housing, faculty of the Gesamtschule-Ost, students and professors of the Hochschule für Künste and international soloists.

This year's Stadteil-Oper focuses on the USA and Eastern Europe. It is the story (adapted from Joseph Roth's novel Hiob) of the Singers, a Jewish family in a schtetl in what is now Russia at the beginning of the 20th century. Faced with poverty, oppression and conflict, they emigrate to America, but must leave their youngest son behind. As the Second World War begins, their daughter Miriam embarks on a dangerous journey to bring Menuchim to New York and reunite the family.

With music by Gustav Mahler, Sergej Prokoview, George Gershwin, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Erich Zeisl and other Eastern European composers who found a new life in America.

Stage Direction: Alexander Radulescu
Musical Direction: Barbara Rucha
Vocal Coach: Inka Neus
Costumes and Makeup: Christin Bokelmann
Stage Design: Sven Rose, Miriam Walter, Benedikt Jährling, Laura Baumann
Libretto: Lena Becker

With: Rafael Bruck (Mendel Singer), Julie Comparini (Deborah Singer), Pia Bohnert (Miriam Singer), Sheldon Baxter (Mac)
and soloists, choir und orchestra from the Gesamtschule Bremen-Ost

More information (in German) at the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie web site
or the Stadtteil-Oper Blog.

Photo © Felix Patzelt
Photo © Felix Patzelt

Bertolt Brecht was one of the most influential German poets and playwrights of the 20th century. Collaborative projects with musicians and composers were an integral part of his work. Many of Brecht's texts question the role of the individual in society. What is a person worth? From what source do people draw their sense of self-worth? What happens in a society where people's worth goes unrecognized? "Auf ein Wort" features song settings by Hanns Eisler and Paul Dessau on these and related themes.

The concert location is the "Altes Pumpwerk", a unique space built in Bremen's former water works, now a water museum. It is possible -- and recommended -- to visit the museum before the concert.

Julie Comparini, voice
Alexander Seemann, piano and accordeon
Felix Patzelt, guitar

February 10, 2017, 8:00 pm (Einlass: 7:00 pm)
Altes Pumpwerk
Salzburger Straße 12
28219 Bremen

Admission: €15 / €10 students and seniors
Reservations by telephone: 0421 363636

More information

Where do musical traditions have their "home" and how can music define or create that home? Musicians from fourteen countries around the world show how different musical traditions can interact, influence each other and be a force for social and political change.

Hayden Chisholm from New Zealand explores the landscape of German folk music in "Sound of Heimat" (D 2012; in German, Thursday. 26.Jan / 19:30, with guests Hayden Chisholm, Loni Kuisle and Peter Schenk from the Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen). "Blackhearts" follows Black Metal fans from around the world who have found their spiritual home in Norway (NOR 2016, 83 Min., orig. with English subtitles; 27. Jan. / 22:30). Crossover projects and new directions for old traditions save the careers of the musicians in "Song of Lahore" (USA 2015, orig. with English subtitles; 27.Jan /18:00.), make 19th-century opera contemporary in "La Bohème am Kap" (SA 2015, Xhosa with German subtitles; 28. Jan. / 18:00), drive political movements in "Sumé - The Sound of a Revolution" (Greenland 2014, orig. with English subtitles; 29. Jan. / 18:00) and fight for freedom and peace in the face of repression in "Mali Blues" (D 2016, French with German subtitles; 28.Jan / 20:30 with director Lutz Gregor) and "Electro Chaabi" (Egypt/F 2013, orig. with German subtitles; 28.Jan. / 22:30). Globalisation and the practically endless possibilities afforded by the digital era play a central role in "Presenting Princess Shaw" (ISR 2016, 80 Min., in English; 29. Jan / 20:30.)

Highlight of the festival: the 1925 Indian-German co-production "The Light of Asia" ("Die Leuchte Asiens") with a newly composed live soundtrack. Celebrated Indian and world music expert Willy Schwarz and composer Riccardo Castagnola combine classical Indian music with contemporary electronics and create a musical bridge between historiy and cultures. (27.Jan. / 20:30 * with live music. Made possible with the generous support the Indian Embassy in Berlin.

All films and events take place in Bremen's communal cinema City 46, Birkenstraße 1, 28195 Bremen. For more information about the program and the festival, visit the MFF website.

Alan at Fugue for Thought was so happy with my contributions to the René Leibowitz article that I was asked to be a guest on his podcast! We talk about my musical (and non-musical) background, working with early and new music, the piece "Explanation of Metaphors", the "Cabaret Voltaire" operetta and musical life in general. It's a wonderful interview and you can listen to it on iTunes or via the Fugue for Thought blog.

By the way, the Cabaret Voltaire operetta was recorded on video and we are currently crowdfunding a DVD production. The DVD is planned for limited, non-commercial release, so if you want one, please donate to the crowdfunding effort at the link below!

World Premiere of a new operetta by Peter Stangel (Music) and Jürgen von Stenglin (Text).

Zürich in 1916: the avant-garde art movement DADA opens the Cabaret Voltaire, a new establishment for the advancement of DADA art and performance. At the same time -- and on the other side of the street -- lives Vladimir Ilitsch Lenin in Swiss exile. Tristan Tzara and Lenin, James Joyce and Emmy Hennings, love, spies, nobles and a butler all have their appearances in Cabaret Voltaire. A musical-theatrical homage to Zürich at a time when even the strangest artistic meetings were possible, with a tip of the hat to Offenbach and Weill.

Dominik Wilgenbus as narrator and nine singers, along with the taschenphilharmonie and video projections by Cornelia von Seidlein bring the audience on a wild ride through the world of avant-garde intellectual entertainment.

With Adam Sanchez (Graf Emanuele di Pedroso), Julian Freibott (Hugo Ball), Andrea Lauren Brown (Monique-Fleur Schneidegger), Peter Pruchniewitz (Vladimir Lenin), Julie Comparini (Emmy Hennings), Giulio Alvise Caselli (Tristan Tzara) u.a.

More information on the taschenphilharmonie website!

Photo © J. Marc Reichow
Photo © J. Marc Reichow

There's a great article on René Leibowitz's work Explanation of Metaphors up at the blog Fugue for Thought. A sample excerpt of the live performance of this work can be found on my Audio page, but it's worth buying the piece, or the whole album -- "René Leibowitz Compositeur" -- on iTunes or as a beautiful double-CD edition from Divox.