if they bite with all their might

Faust’s level of frustration is peaking. His monumental invention, the electric light, does not cause him any satisfaction anymore. Even though, this deal had cost him his soul. But to stand up against Mephisto, he knows, is a futile act.

But then, he meets a woman of iridescent appearance and a multiplicity of names: Ms Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel. It is this enigmatic female figure who beguiles the audience. Based on fragments of Getrude Stein’s “Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights” Ms Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel reflects on herself and the world. In her company a dog who says “thank you”. Less pleasing is the arrival of a viper that shakes up Ms Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel’s world.

The musicians too, are pretty freaked out by the reptile’s appearance. More than just interpreters of a fixed score, the performers are entangled in the unfolding of the story. The score calls for improvisatory and temporarily freely interpreted passages.
Also, through their voices we hear Getrude Stein’s vivid characters. And not only Faust, the trio too, loves to play with the lights. They do so quite successfully. Yet, the 18 live activated light bulbs are stubborn and like to play their own game.

The audience is witnessing a performance that responds to the spur of the moment, to Ms Marguerite Ida and Helena Annabel’s mood swings, to the appearance of all sorts of treacherous wild creatures and shadowy figures and ultimately, to the tussle of who now gains control over the technology and the lights.


World premier June 24, 2016, Kunstraum Walcheturm Zurich

Retro Disco
Samuel Stoll, horn
Reto Staub, korg MS20 mini (for Simone Keller)
Moritz Müllenbach, cello

Ljubo Majstorovic, programming, design and building of the live light interaction

Video: Franz Bannwart