Opera na Zamku in Szczecin (Pomeranian Dukes Castle, ul. Korsarzy 34) will present on Saturday 16 April 2016 at 7 pm the premiere of Polowanie na czarownice (Witch-hunt), a performance choreographed by Cathy Marston, an artist collaborating with the Royal Opera House in London. The piece is a combination of dance theatre and dramatic theatre. The performers include an actress, 15 corps de ballet and the Opera na Zamku Orchestra. The work was inspired by the true story of Anna Göldi, a maidservant brutally tortured and executed in Switzerland in 1782. She was accused of witchcraft and attempted murder. The music is a collage of Baroque works.
Next presentations will be held on 17 April at 6 pm and 19 April 2016 at 7 pm to inaugurate the 9th International Ballet Competition Golden Pointe Shoes 2016.
Choreographer Cathy Marston:
Anna Göldi is well known in Switzerland for being ?the last European witch? ? the last woman sentenced to death for witchcraft. Executed in 1783, she was cleared of blame by the Swiss authorities in 2008. Her life is well documented. Looking for work, she found herself in a village in eastern Switzerland, where doctor Johann Tschudi employed her to take care of his seven children. Göldi had a particularly close relationship with the eight-year-old Annamigeli Tschudi. When the parents found needles and nails in the girl?s cup of milk, Annamigeli accused Anna of witchcraft. Anna got fired. She complained to the local authorities, but in vain. After some time, Annamigeli vomited needles and nails. The parents decided to bring Anna back, believing that only the witch who had cast a spell would be able to remove it. Anna decided to try to cure Annamigeli with home remedies, not witchcraft. Göldi was trapped: should the child die, she would be sentenced for casting a spell on her, and should the girl return to health, this would be considered a clear proof of Anna?s witchcraft. Soon after, Annamigeli got better, and Anna Göldi was executed.
This is a task for us, the work?s authors: to fill in the gaps in this story. Anna Göldi had an affair with her previous employer, which is confirmed by documents. Maybe she had an intimate relationship also with her new employer, since it was suspected that she was pregnant with his child. However, no official document confirms that. It is also likely that Annamigeli?s mother was not a warm and open person. She was rather cool and reserved, probably overwhelmed by parenthood, as she eventually had 10 children. Most likely, she did not have good relations with Annamigeli, contrary to Göldi. As a rule, women accused of witchcraft were open, warm and sensual persons, and sexually attractive. That is why Göldi was attractive both to her employer and to his daughter.
For me, milk is a very feminine, motherly symbol. Needles and nails are phallic, masculine. That is why I think that their presence in the cup of milk is a symbol. I think that Annamigeli caught Johann and Anna during a sexual act. She could not find words to describe it ? or a person she could talk to about what she saw. Children often make a drawing of things they cannot describe with words. That is why I think that the cup of milk with needles and nails could be a way of expressing emotions. Annamigeli died at the age of 40 in 1810 is present-day Ukraine. But her soul did not find peace. That is why her spirit visits us, to explain that we were wrong. A lot of time has passed and we still don?t know what she saw. We can see the memories of eight-year-old Annamigeli. But when it comes to tortures, things stop making sense in her memories. The spirit of her father notices that the mother is jealous about Anna?s relationship with Annamigeli and her father.
The story starts again. We can see it three times. Each time, Annamigeli dives into her memory deeper and deeper. She opens more and more doors to the memories she had rejected for years. And finally, in the last scene she opens the only door on the stage, to see what she saw when she was eight. She can see that Anna Göldi was innocent. So who was guilty? Annamigeli? But she was only eight. Maybe her father? He could have pleaded guilty, stop the unfair trial. But he would lose his family, status, and money. Her mother? After all, she should have known what was happening to her child, be aware of the girl?s hysterical character.
Cathy Marston talks about the performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-NjoqY_H5vM
Catherine Voeffray, costume designer:
Cathy wanted to set the story in an undefined space ? a purgatory / mental hospital / limbo / ?non-space?. The time setting had to be undefined, too. We were looking for a style for the costumes and decided to use something resembling lab coats and to keep the costumes white.
Christina Janusz, soloist of Opera na Zamku ballet, who plays Anna Göldi:
Perhaps no one in our ballet has worked on such an emotionally demanding performance before. I am very happy to play this role, as this is a great challenge. And speaking on behalf of our corps de ballet, I have to say that we are happy to work with Cathy Marston and Jenny MacGregor. The performance is very difficult, maintaining a high artistic level, and they are able to get the best of us ? and even more. This is great for our development.
Beata Niedziela of the Baltic Dramatic Theatre, guest actress playing Annamigeli Tschudi (adult):
This is the first time I collaborate with a corps de ballet. Never before have I seen such a solid artistic work. As an artist and as private a person, I would like this show to be played as long as possible because it is the essence of what theatre is about. The story we present is even more interesting given the fact that it really happened and talks about real persons.
Choreography: Cathy Marston
Music director: Jerzy Wołosiuk
Stage design: Jann Messerli
Costumes: Catherine Voeffray
Choreographic collaboration: Jenny MacGregor
Lighting director: Dawid Karolak
Polish text: Marek Ruszczyński
Assistant to choreographer: Anna Tłokińska
Anna Göldi ? Karolina Cichy-Szromnik / Christina Janusz
Doctor Johann Tschudi ? Pedro Rizzi / Paweł Wdówka
Elsbeth Tschudi, his wife ? Monika Marszałek / Kseniia Naumets-Snarska
Annamigeli Tschudi, their daughter (child) ? Żaneta Bagińska / Karolina Cichy-Szromnik
Annamigeli?s siblings ? Żaneta Bagińska / Patryk Kowalski / Stephanie Nabet / Pedro Rizzi
Nurses, residents of Glarus ? Klaudia Batista / Nayu Hata
Nurses, residents of Glarus ? Roger Bernad Paretas / Vladyslav Golovchuk / Łukasz Przespołewski / Maxim Yasinski
Annamigeli Tschudi (adult) ? Marta Jesswein / Beata Niedziela
Opera na Zamku Orchestra in Szczecin
Conductor: Jerzy Wołosiuk
Tickets: 30?50 PLN