based on the novel by Herman Melville
Following Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, in the second half of the season another we hear from another master storyteller. A narrator who tells us to call him Ismael walks onto the Residenztheater stage in seaman’s garb. What follows is a genuine monster of a story: Ismael is hired on the «Pequod», an old whaling ship, and goes to sea on board this floating blubber factory. The objective of its voyage is not only – as it will turn out – the bloody exploitation of the world’s oceans and its giant mammals, but also the personal, hate-filled quest for vengeance of a «godless, god-like man», the one-legged Captain Ahab. With a linguistic force reminiscent of Shakespeare, the Captain exhorts his crew to hunt down and kill the legendary Great White Whale that cost him his leg.
«I have written a wicked book», Melville wrote in a letter to his idol Nathaniel Hawthorne – meaning «Moby Dick», a work that is out of control in many respects. Published in 1851, the novel received little acclaim during Melville’s lifetime. Not until the 20th century, thirty years after the death of its author, was it rediscovered as a masterpiece of literary modernism. «Moby Dick» the book is every bit as unique as Moby Dick, the Great White Whale: it is a story that shatters expectations – a hybrid creature containing elements of a thriller, an encyclopaedia, observations of nature, philosophical speculations, elements of Elizabethan drama, the emphatic language of the Bible, nautical curses and coarse puns. Both the book and the whale are an enigma, a cypher, open for each age to interpret in its own way: is «Moby Dick» the drama of a fanatic, or rather of those who are prepared to pursue the manic delusions of a demagogue to the point of their own destruction? Does it describe an epic battle between a force of nature and the human desire for control – or the search for meaning and importance in a universe of insignificance? Or is the planet Earth itself like a ship at sea in space? But who the devil is Moby Dick then?
The director Stefan Pucher – well known to Munich audiences – returns to the city to present Melville’s magnum opus on stage in his first work at the Residenztheater.