ROPE AND CHASM is an evening-length work for mezzo-soprano and video, based on Nietzsche's Also Sprach Zarathustra It consists of a series of episodes in which the performer sings and speaks with a recorded musical score and reacts to the video characters who themselves speak.
Zarathustra was the most radical literary experiment of its time: an autobiography, a contra-Bible and a frontal attack on conventional morality. Those who read past its faux-biblical oratory will find a series of surrealist characters: Zarathustra the wanderer meets a tightrope walker, a leech specialist, a half/mole, half dwarf “spirit of gravity,” an “inverted cripple” who has “too little of everything and too much of one thing” (This gigantic ear poised on a tiny body is a parody of Nietzsche's ex-mentor Richard Wagner.)
ROPE & CHASMwill be performed by Israeli-American Re'ut Ben Ze'ev as Zarathustra, whose character will take on fresh lyrical meanings through the medium of the female voice. This gender reversal will also compel reflection about the mask-like relation of Nietzsche to his alter ego Zarathustra. A female Zarathustra troubles the male loneliness of this curious work of Nietzsche's, which contains not a single female character and yet lies at the core of modern art and philosophy. The theatrical characters of this masterwork beg for realization as an intimate stage work with animation that captures its macabre irony.
The score is composed and constructed from a variety of materials: modified sampled instruments, pure electronic sound and reworked fragments of other music. The video is made from 3d and morphing animation and found footage. The work is in the original German, with subtitles, since the musical poetry of the original German loses its musical force in translation.