Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness will be next on stage at Komische Oper Berlin, DE, on March 1, 2017.

The ballet

Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness is a ballet by Nacho Duato, and one of his best-known works. Based on music by Johann Sebastian Bach, the ballet was composed in 1999 for the theatre in Weimar, where Bach lived and worked for several years.

A ballet in two acts, Duato’s work tells the story of Bach’s life and work through the medium of eurythmic dance, combining baroque music with modern choreography. The two parts are based on a multiplicity of excerpts of Bach’s music, as the Goldberg Variations, the Brandenburg Concertos, different sonatas and organ concerts, and finally the Art of Fugue – Bach’s signature artwork – on which the whole second part is built: «This mystical and rather spiritual part reflects the mood of death, as it is for Nacho Duato inextricably connected to Bach’s music, and which in its contemplative seriousness sits in stark contrast to the fast-paced first part.» state the notes by the Staatsballet Berlin.

The design

Multiplicity, as the state of having many folds – just as the German Vielfältigkeit of the original title: that of foldingis one of the “bridge themes” recognisable in the design of the scene, both in the pliable membranes along the structure levels as well as in the vertical diagonals of the ramps. Jaafar Chalabi combines the theme of “folding” with an architectural concept of façade vs. bearing structure that he directly relates to baroque architecture, as he comprehensively explained:

Designer’s notes – comments by Jaafar Chalabi

«Vielfältigkeit, i.e. multiple-fold, diversity, multiplicity, labyrinth, refers to the processual idea of folding. The Baroque refers not to an essence but rather to an operative function to a trait. It endlessly produces folds. The Baroque trait twists [and] turns its folds, pushing them to infinity fold over fold, one upon the other. The Baroque unfurls all the way to infinity.

An architectural conception envisions the thematic of Baroque music of J. S. Bach, through the process of folding. In architecture, the fold provides a model for theories of metamorphosis and covering (Bekleidung, Gottfried von Semper). Folds are manoeuvrable borders which separate an interior from the exterior, yet also create an interior within the exterior and an exterior within the interior. Considered abstractly, it is only the type of bend -concave or convex- that determines inside and outside, meaning the gender of the space. In this unfixed state, the fold provides a model of transformation.

A scaffold set at the back of a stage acting as building retaining a curtain wall, that transforms itself from opened to closed entity. This architectural gender of the Baroque, represents the separation of the façade (exterior) and the closed room (interior), the outer facade of reception and the inner rooms of action. Baroque architecture is always confronting to principles, a bearing principle and a covering principle. The geometrically ordered scaffold enhances several floors all connected through ramps creating a fluid movement. These ramps represent vertical folding, spatial continuum, all set in diagonal relations (dynamic) within a rigid structure (static).
In contrast to the building, the façade consist of an elastically membrane that transforms itself through contractions and extensions. These contractions provide literal models of folds, simulating zones of intervals and densification».

Jaafar Chalabi

Jaafar Chalabi – Multiplicity. Forms of Silence and Emptiness (Nacho Duato, music by J.S. Bach)
Choreography Nacho Duato
Set design Jaafar Chalabi
Costume design Nacho Duato
Light design Brad Fields
Photo creditsFernando Marcos / Staatsballet Berlin // Designer’s notes: