„The Day Bach met Frank Zappa“
A musical German-English 3-person play
in 5 acts by Christiane Seebach
musical arrangement: Andreas Steinhardt, Christiane Seebac
English editing: Christian Frerichs
What if two of the greatest musical geniuses of the centuries did meet - even if it were in heaven? Would the highly religious, lovable Bach get along with the brilliant and yet so torn Zappa? Could they create works together? With so much time between their lives, would they be able to find common ground musically? And what role does the devil play, who, according to Goethe, seems to be the crux of the biscuit (respectively of the poodle)? Yes, poodles, they were fascinating too for Zappa...
In a highly informative and musical play, Christiane Seebach as Johann Sebastian Bach, Andreas Steinhardt as Frank Zappa and Christian Frerichs as the devil create a highly experimental musical new world. Will the experiment succeed?
Lars Haberland directs.
Tante Tofu, who have already performed twice at the Zappanale with their rock operas "Carl Heinz" and "Sauerkraut", are now coming back to Zappanale with their debut play: "The day Bach met Frank Zappa", which was penned by Tante-Tofu-Singer Christiane. Before the band could sign director Lars Haberland, he asked them a few questions:
Lars: The idea of two of the greatest and most brilliant personalities in the history of music coming together in a play is fascinating. How did you come up with that?
Christiane: Since we've been at the Zappanale, Stoni and I have always loved the opening events in St. Catherine's Church, which take place in Hamburg under the motto: "Zappa plays for Bach". We wanted to expand this idea, perfect it, so to speak. What if we mixed the music of Bach and Zappa? How would Bach interpret Zappa's music and what would Zappa make of Bach's magnificent baroque ostinato themes? It all started with this idea.
Stoni: The couple Johann Sebastian Bach and Frank Zappa also represents our two spheres of influence. While Christiane grew up musically with Byrd and Bach, I grew up with Beatles and Zappa. Basically, we could have come up with the idea without Zappa plays for Bach, just by trying to turn the story and spirit of Tante Tofu into art.
Lars: I was allowed to listen to the results and I have to say that you did an excellent job. How did this initial idea become a whole play?
Christiane: When the pieces that Stoni and I arranged were finished, we couldn't just leave it all like that. Somehow an explanation was needed. I've been a drama teacher for a long time and I write a ton of plays for my students. So it made sense to do the same thing here. But this time I've reached my limits. It took a full 2 years before the piece was “in the can”. I read a lot about Zappa and Bach, listened to interviews, spent days brainstorming with Stoni and spent nights listening to the music of these two geniuses over and over. I noticed that both of them had some similarities in their CVs, for example both had been innocently imprisoned or had been married twice and been loving fathers who passed their music and skills on to their children. I incorporated all of this into the piece, peppered with quotations. Even Goethe gets a chance to speak.
Stoni: The whole theater thing is Christiane's competence. I can only stand by as a conversation partner. But anyone who knows me knows, of course, that telling stories is not my thing. When there is a message to convey, I prefer short, compact speeches. However, I enjoy it very much when many of the messages are in a larger context, as in "The day Bach met Frank Zappa". For me it's like a moving concept album.
Lars: You later created a new role, that of the devil. How did that happen?
Christiane: Originally, the devil was supposed to simultaneously translate the content of the play, since there are many people at the Zappanale who only understand English. However, I was able to expand our ensemble with the excellent Christian Frerichs, whose music and acting I have been enthusiastic about for a long time. He would not have been challenged with the mere translation of the dialogues, which is why he was given a leading role.
Stoni: Regardless of the technical side, that the devil was initially intended as a kind of interpreter, his role is also inherently important in the piece. His character causes the others to act, divide or unite. And his rough-shod demeanor contrasts wonderfully with the cultivated habitus of the two musical geniuses.
Lars: The Heavenly Orchestra provides musical accompaniment for many scenes. So there will be a colorful, bilingual, musical play. I know and love this variety from Tante Tofu. For me, that's what makes the Zappanale special. Finally, please briefly introduce all participants.
Christiane: Andreas Steinhardt (Stoni) plays Zappa. He is a great musician, mastering many instruments such as drums, keyboards and bass guitar. But of course he is our “guitar god”. He's my counterpart, like Yoko and John or Sartre and Simone. We have been making music together for decades and unhinge one project after the next.
Christian Frerichs, our devil, is also a genius in my eyes. He is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, keyboard, vocals, bass, drums) and excellent improv musician in various theater groups. I like him as a whole package: a great person, a great musician, a great actor.
Stoni: Christiane Seebach is the author of the piece and embodies Johann Sebastian Bach. She is the theater woman and plays countless instruments, primarily wind instruments, but also string, percussion and keyboard instruments. As she also represents science as a teacher, she is like the reincarnation of Renaissance artists. We've both worked together for many years and I've never learned as much from anyone else as I have learned from her. In addition, she is a genius when it comes to organizational matters. So if, for example, it was about bringing a play to the stage, she would be the right choice. Boris Schegene aka. Nigel Sherlock plays bass. When I first had the courage in the 1990s to put a band together according to my own ideas - at that time KrüGER - he was the bassist. So we've known each other for a long time. And his repertoire ranges from Punk, Latin, Funk, Ska and Rock to Jazz. The whole band draws on this wealth of experience. Oliver Specht plays drums. He is the good soul of the music who always holds everything together. His drumming is unobtrusive, always like the carpet on which everything else stands. Even when things get rhythmically difficult, Olli is always the framework we can hold on to.
Christiane Seebach as Johann Sebastian Bach
Andreas Steinhardt as Frank Zappa
Christian Frerichs as the devil
Nigel Sherlock on bass
Oliver Specht on drums
Director: Lars Haberland