Karmina Šilec © Ivan Vinorvrski

"Golden Mask" Award for Carmina Slovenica

Karmina Silec about a project that recently received important recognition in Russia.

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Performance by Carmina Slovenica was awarded with the “Golden Mask” for “When the Mountain changed its clothing”. The Golden Mask was given for “The Best Foreign Production Presented in Russia in 2015”.

The decision about this award is always made on the basis of an opinion poll among theatre critics. The RF Theatre Union sent to 186 theatre critics in Moscow and St. Petersburg, those who are known to regularly go to see touring productions from other countries. Festival Golden mask is home to all genres of performing arts: opera, drama, music theater, operetta, musicals, modern dance and puppet theater and it regularly hosts performances from most important Russian theaters, including the Bolshoi Theatre, Mariinsky Theatre, Aleksandrinsky Theatre and many others.

The Golden Mask Award is given in over 30 nominations (for best production, best acting, directing, conducting, choreography, set design etc.). Award »The Best Foreign Production« is given annually to a production presented in Russia in the previous year. The Golden Mask is also a big festival, doing what it can to represent an enormous country with a rich theatre tradition.

Let me explain a little about the performance and its background. It draws its inspiration from the Slovenian folk song Da Pa Ćanynu and is a result of my cooperation with Heiner Goebbels - theatre director, composer and one of the greatest creative personalities of today. When The Mountain Changed Its Clothing uses a collage of similarly disparate references to create an enigmatic reimagining of the source material. The result is a meditative exploration of the emotional and physical transition from childhood to womanhood. This intimate and universally understood journey is also infused with a more esoteric reference: a historical reflection of the political, social and economic upheaval experienced of Slovenia. When the Mountain Changed its Clothing reflects on the seasonal changes on the mountain of Kanin. The old is no more, yet the new remains out of reach. On this threshold my ensemble Carmina Slovenica plays seemingly harmless games, recites texts by J. J. Rousseau, Gertrude Stein, among others, and performs songs - creating poetically threatening images. In a mutual interplay of sovereignty and repression, the singers move through the cycle of seasons, constantly calibrating the balance of power relations among one another and especially between the audience and the stage.

There is a vivid mix of song, choreography and spoken word, combining an intriguing catalogue of music which brings choir and chamber works from the repertoire of Carmina Slovenica– both as fragments or entire compositions. This selection features works from Slovenian heritage – with original compositions and arrangements of folk music, medieval polyphony, ethnic music, partisan songs and contemporary works by distinguished composers: Johannes Brahms, folk tunes, Arnold Schönberg, from Codex Las Huelgas, Lojze Lebič, Sarah Hopkins, Arne Mellnäs, Karin Rehnqvist, Heiner Goebbels and Karmina Šilec.

One of the most prevalent inspirations for this piece was the work of French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet. One of his quotes in particular, “What do young girls dream of? Of the knife and of blood,” served as a starting point for When the mountain changed its clothing. Chosen texts are by Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Joseph von Eichendorff, Adalbert Stifter, Gertrude Stein, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Marlen Haushofer, Marina Abramovič and Ian McEwan.

The project was produced by Ruhrtriennale in 2012 and since than it has toured to several eminent festivals worldwide (Festival d’Automne a Paris, Holland festival, Melbourne Festival, Kunstenfestivaldesarts Brussels, etc).