Pierrot Lunaire and His Shadow ('Pierrot lunaire und drei Schattenträume', alternatively in English 'Pierrot Lunaire and three Shadow Dreams') is an experimental music theater piece, which lets Arnold Schönberg’s melodrama 'Pierrot lunaire' intertwine with three shadow pieces composed by the Berlin based Finnish composer Miika Hyytiäinen. It was commissioned by the Finnish soprano Annika Fuhrmann, who kept a diary on her dreams in German (her other native language). The dream diary was used as the text source for the shadow pieces, ‘the dream shadows’.
The main music dramaturgical theme for this piece has been the idea of a shadow: What would the shadow of a dream sound like? This question was the starting point for composing the dream shadows to connect to the music of Schönberg. The original composition of Schönberg itself is complex and rich, and Hyytiäinen didn’t want to break its hermeneutic world. Like a shadow originating from the original source, Hyytiäinen’s dream shadows complement Schönberg pieces, which remain untouched in the production. The ‘dream shadows’ are a commentary to Schönberg’s music between the original parts. The musical material starts by following the style of Schönberg, but gets then more and more individual ending in the style of experimental music theatre. In the end, the combination of these produces a new world of its own.
The dream diary of our soprano Annika Fuhrmann is the source of all texts in the Schattenträume parts, and the actions on stage are also directly fetched from these dreams. All events are presented to the audience as glimpses into the subconscious mind of the main character. The dramaturgy compliments the two compositions by following dream logic. At first it seems that Pierrot Lunaire and his shadow are one, but slowly the shadow detaches herself and starts looking for her own identity. The shadow becomes intoxicated by her freedom, but finally realizes that she has become the new Pierrot herself. Eventually, she is able to make peace with her own past.
The idea of the puppet and its master pays homage to the Japanese bunraku tradition, but the main inspiration comes from the psychoanalytical idea of the Shadow as presented by the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. He was interested in the mystery of the soul and he gave great significance to dreams. In this context, Pierrot Lunaire and His Shadow can also be seen as a Jungian artwork.
Photos © Johan Forsström.