Herman melville’s monster novel "moby dick with its 900 pages and 135 chapters has already made many a reader capitulate. Even ulrich tukur as a teenager only got as far as "somewhere in the middle of the book". When he took over the literature-and-music project put together by pianist sebastian knauer and his father wolfgang knauer for klaus maria brandauer, he reread the novel diagonally, realizing "what a fantastic writer melville was and created his own version, in which he and knauer referred to the "friendship between quequeg, the noble savage from the south sea" and the payer ishmael, who was at first afraid of the over and over tattooed stranger, concentrated. From the first scene on, the audience could convince themselves of the functioning of this version and the absolutely conclusive interaction of text and music.
With thirteen atmospheric and thematically perfect compositions that match the text excerpts read by tukur, such as the somber "nuages gris by franz liszt at the beginning, over scott joplin’s ragtime "the strenuous life", gershwin’s "the man i love", but also a largo by vivaldi/ bach, a long excerpt from dvorak’s "symphony from the new world" and six almost eerily fitting pieces from mussorgsky’s "pictures at an exhibition" sebastian knauer with his interpretations on the piano made the plot almost sensually tangible. The result was a total experience that went far beyond a reading with piano accompaniment.
Also, ulrich tukur’s lecture had nothing to do with a reading. From the beginning it was clear that he enjoyed melville’s linguistic power, his ingenuity, his individual figurative language trained on the bible and shakespeare, which also came to the fore in translation.
And fortunately, tukur also loves to push the brute actor that he is to the buttons. With gusto, he loved the tavern keeper coffin in new bedford parleying in his crumpled american slang or the toothless elias proclaiming his warning of the inevitably dire outcome of the story. And of course the captain ahab, who is successively exposed by melville in all his paranoid drive, was a great opportunity for tukur to unleash the highest dramatic acting skills, even if he was not able to show his gross insanity ("who is above me?") in the excessive portrayal of the captain?") at the climax of his revenge campaign against the white whale moby dick, who had once torn off one of his legs, had to remain seated at his reading table.
The program’s concentration on the unusual close friendship between ishmael, who grew up in well-to-do circumstances, and the wild quequeg, who sold his shrunken head, which also repeatedly frightens the well-behaved burghers in the novel, was not only appropriate for the times, but also very clever from a dramaturgical point of view. For it made it possible, amidst all the whalers and other often bizarre characters that dotted the coastal towns of new england and nantucket, ahab’s whaling ship "pequod" and the world’s oceans to identify with the friends and share ishmael’s at first nuchterne, then increasingly horrified view of ahab and thus feel the approaching catastrophe. And to experience melville’s great philanthropy and tolerance through this friendship, without his many theoretical treatises and tracts, which sometimes make reading the text very tedious.
In the strange, rough, brutal world of the whalpers and the inevitability of fate, which the author emphasized again and again, it was liberating for the audience that tukur not only pointed out oddities in the text with a mischievous grin, but also commented on it as a very modern man: he called the son of the clan chief quequeg the "prince of wales of the south sea" and could not help but comment on melville’s time-critical observation that (in his time) the americans only provided the brains, but left the muscle work to the others, with: "nowadays it’s almost the other way around, I guess!
Fresh, overwhelming, absolutely inspiring was this encounter with one of the great works of world literature and the attentive audience in the summery bright spa theater thanked the two great artists with much applause and bravos.