Today, the opera Karl May, Raum der Wahrheit, composed by Manos Tsangaris, with a libretto by Marcel Beyer, will be performed in Semper 2 (Probebühne) in Dresden.
Karl May doesn’t always need Red Indians. KM 1, alias »Dr. Karl May«, urgently requires KM 2, alias »Captain Ramon Diaz de la Escosura«, who in turn cannot survive without KM 3, alias »Assessor Anton Clemens Laube, a member of the secret police«. And who would KM 4, alias »Prince Muhamêl Latréaumont« be, if he could not transform himself into KM 5, alias »the author Heichel, illegitimate son of an aristocrat«, or finally into his own echo, KM 25, alias »a grateful Karl May reader« ?
All the characters in this opera are crazy. And thus no one is crazy. Here everyone can speak two to three dozen languages, a skill that Karl May possessed and enjoying showing off to his readers. And if Karl May – in his various incarnations from KM 1 to KM 25 – is a complete work of art, a generator of various fictional realities, then the person at the back of it all is predestined to be the germ cell of an opera. Karl May is a playing field; an empty room, on whose walls someone has scribbled fake names in a spidery hand. Karl May, that’s what I call my gun cabinet.