Duration: 2 hours with one intermission
The premiere took place on 13 October 2016.
Alexander Belousov's chamber opera is a musical and philosophical reflection based on an updating of Spinoza's ideas about the necessary and voluntary union of people on the basis of reason and common good.
"It is before all things useful to men to associate their ways of life, to bind themselves together with such bonds as they think most fitted to gather them all into unity, and generally to do whatsoever serves to strengthen friendship." (Spinoza.The Ethics. Ethica Ordine Geometrico Demonstrata 1677).
The two-act opera's title combines the words "mania" and "gnosis," that is, "mania" and "knowledge." The libretto is constructed in such a way that a fictitious hero-protagonist emerges from a story-within-a-story about a writer, leading us to the conclusion that the acquisition of knowledge comes by way of mania, or obsession, whatever form that may take.
In the first act a romantic, fledgling writer invents a hero who, it turns out, had lived even before he was invented. This hero begins acting contrary to the author's intentions, performing various "maniognostic" deeds (of a sexual, hedonistic, schizophrenic and "messianic" nature). In an erotic fever he strangles a pizza delivery girl; discovers a drug dealer bound hand and foot in his closet, and (in Act Two) tortures him as revenge for his older sister's death due to an overdose. Eventually, the drug dealer dies from stress as he witnesses the hero inflicting wounds upon himself. The finale unites everyone precisely as per Spinoza: the bodies that divide us in fact do not divide us. When harming yourself, you harm another.
Maniozis refers back to the genre of dramma per musica, that is, to the origins of opera when music did not yet dominate a theatre performance. The musical texture alludes to Renaissance vocal polyphony (as per the polyphonies of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina) and to the romantic language of Wagner. The background for the first, naively romantic, act is the sound of a washing machine, which serves as an orchestra for all the goings-on. It is joined by sounds extracted from metal barrels and a steel box. The second act begins with the funeral of the young writer and unfolds against the backdrop of a crystal-clear piano mixed with German, Russian and Latin texts, which are gradually corrupted by alien phonemes that "pollinate" the vocals. In this manner, text becomes music.
The gloomy, black and gray functional warehouse space created by designer Stepan Lukyanov transforms into a landscape backed by a starry sky. Anastasia Nefedova's trash-dream costumes of troubled souls lend the performance form and content.
The Moscow debut of composer Alexander Belousov fits well into the overall strategy of the Stanislavsky Electrotheatre, which has become a springboard for experimentation in the field of new academic, electronic, and operatic music.
Дмитрий Курляндский, композитор, музыкальный руководитель Электротеатра Станиславский
Libretto: Andrei Iryshkov