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Work of the Week – Ludger Vollmer: Collision

Fake news lead to mass panic: Ludger Vollmer's new opera Collision (German original title “Zusammenstoß”) is based on a true event from 1910. It can be seen for the first time on 20 April 2024. Heidelberg Theatre is presenting the world premiere in a production by Christian Brey, with Dietger Holm and Kens Lui as musical directors.

Kurt Schwitters wrote the libretto for a Dadaist, absurdist opera together with Käthe Steinitz in 1927 and incorporated a hilarious, almost crazy story. At the heart of the plot is the appearance of Halley's Comet in 1910, when false reports and exaggerated depictions in the newspapers led to worldwide hysteria within a very short space of time. ‘The day the world went mad’ was the headline in Der Spiegel on the 100th anniversary of the event and went on to report: ‘Suicides, orgies, sacraments: When Halley's Comet appeared in May 1910, the world went off the rails even without an impact. The media fuelled panic, science was confused. Postcards bear witness to the fantasies of the time - between fears of the end of the world and debauchery’.

Collision by Ludger Vollmer: The day the world went mad

Vollmer's setting of the libretto is equally grotesque, revue-like and dazzling. In the opera, the astronomer Virmula observes the approach of a star whose collision with the earth would mean its end. The curious, the world-weary and the press gather for the end of the world. Then Virmula discovers an error in his calculations. Will the collision happen or not? And which would be worse?

I have left nothing out when composing. The palette of absurd choral techniques, colouratura vocal technique, speaking surfaces, collage, rap, jazz, foxtrot and soul style quotations, mickeymousing, tango and slapstick is extremely broad. My melodic-rythmic high-speed composition technique pulsates over, in and around everything; there's not a dry eye in the house. (Ludger Vollmer)

The day before the premiere, on 13 April 2024, there will be an introductory matinee for Collision at Heidelberg Theatre. The play will be performed in a total of eight performances until 12 July 2024.


Further Reading: 

Ludger Vollmer: Composer Profile 

Collision: Work Details and Online Score 

Website Theater Heidelberg


photo: contemporary postcard


Head of Promotion | Concert Opera Media Division

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