On "Fuge für Komparsen" - (2018)   

for piano

Eveline Galler-Unganz und Daniel von Krottnaurer gewidmet


The renovation of Berlin's historic Staateoper required the company occupy temporary facilities, and in this season, the company returned to the almost completely renovated building complex. Almost, but not quite complete, and for this my wife's office became temporary home to the stalwart duo who manage the extras for the productions. Children, adults, some regulars and some newly cast, such that there is much to be done at times. Eveline and her assistant Danny shared my wife's office, such that three desks, piles of boxes, and a grand piano all for a time coexisted.


Komparsen are also known as Statisten, working in stage, film and television, complete with agents and casting calls. In the US, such extras now represented by the Screen Actors Guild after a merger with the Screen Extras Guild were often cast by their type and even clothing, while the design of opera productions often requires costumes and make-up to match a production's conception. For this, scheduling and continual contact through Evi and Danny kept them very busy indeed, from scheduling for staging rehearsals to costume and make-up appointments and more.


When visiting the office, it amused me that Evi's and Danny's phones had different ring tones, and from these ring tones -- Evi's with a jazzy "lick" and Danny's the more classical gesture -- could combine for a fugue subject. Some operatic references are hidden within the texture of the counterpoint, echoes of Wagner and Puccini, but one short quotation references Mozart's Die Zauberflöte because Evi appears as one of the many Komparsen in a scene, and moreover the above photo shows her in costume for another. Komparsen "people" a stage production, but more, also appear sometimes as animals, as in Die Zauberflöte, as they enact phantasmagorical animals to include the rear portion of the four-footed variety. Some must crawl on all fours to portray a crocodile, suggesting such work can be both fun and strenuous. A rhinoceros, perhaps? A unicorn? Perhaps someday, I might the be back end of an animal, as some have suggested....


Such unsung heroes of the backstage are not apparent to a theater-going public, and yet these management positions are most necessary to the overall theatrical experience. It has been a pleasure to get to know the both of them, and so this little musical entertainment is in their honor.


The opening statement is Evi's, repeated an octave higher, and at the a tempo, Danny's is repeated in octave transpositions. At the andantino, the fugue subject is stated, and then developed. What follows is a fantasy of contrapuntal play.  



6 pages, circa 6' 00" - an MP3 demo is here: 


The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano score.


Fuge für Komparsen