Vanden Plas: Rock Opera „Die Chroniken der Unsterblichen – Blutnacht“
Vanden Plas do not only stand for good music, the band members have achieved a reputation as seasoned musicians and performers on German theater stages. Now the band has been granted a special honor, when Bestseller author Wolfgang Hohlbein asked them to transform his novel series „Die Chroniken der Unsterblichen - Blutnacht“ into a Rock Opera. The project premieres on January 21, 2012 at Pfalztheater in Kaiserslautern (GER), and singer Andy Kuntz tells us more about it.
Hello there! I assume you are busy with preparations for the theatr project – so are you nervous, or doesn´t that happen any more to you „old-stagers“?
More than nervous. I think that never goes away, as in all those years we have continuously raised the hurdles higher and higher!!
Bestseller autor Wolfgang Hohlbein asked you to transform his 13-book novel series „Die Chronik der Unsterblichen“ into a Rock Opera – how come? And how does it feel to be confronted with such a request?
He has been planning for a while to approach the theater as medium for himself. As he is a big music fan, it wasn´t too far out to consider getting a creative team together for a rock opera. Two years ago his manager Dieter Winkler has seen us with Christ0 at Gärtnerplatz Theater Munich. He was totally excited and told Wolfgang about it. They both came to watch another production we had almost at the same time in Kaiserslautern: Ludus Danielis, a medieval Rock Oratorium based on traditional notations found in Monastery Beauvais. He was immediately hooked about our transformation of the material and we talked right away about ideas how to take on such a huge project.
It was a big honor for us all that Wolfgang wanted to work with us. He is very cooperative and open to suggestions, and very down-to-earth. A fruitful liaison, artistically and personally!!
Since 1992 your band has been acitve in theater productions and you wrote some musicals already. I can imagine, however, how much work this project must have been, as it has to follow the book. What is more difficult – to come up with a story yourself or what you did now with „Blutnacht“?
Both is equally difficult. You cannot directly compare it. This time there was so much pressure because of the deadline. Usually such a project demands about 18 - 24 months preparation, but we only had 9 months! It was almost a Mission Impossible, but when you focus just on this one thing and use the synergies of artistic alliances you have built up with the years, it is still doable.
What does it take to transform a book into a musical, could you describe the process a little bit?
You need a lot of experience, courage and creativity to extract those great characters and locations from the book pages and weave those together into a meaningful new story. Luckily we did not run out of ideas, and I worked closely together with Dieter Winkler (who is not only manager but also a very succesful author). I presented the scenario then together with Wolfgang and Dieter to the theater. After they accepted it, the work for the Libretto and the lyrics began. The songs had to be written to fit the scenes, and there were also interludes needed etc...
Can you tell me briefly the story of „Die Chronik der Unsterblichen – Blutnacht“?
The immortal Andrej Delany, the 13 Chronik novels´ protagonist, is getting lethally wounded by a black knight with a magic sword, right in the first scene. He is give the choice, either to become a god at the side of a dark goddess or to drink a magic potion, which might destroy his soul. This enables him to travel through space and time to turn his fate around and face this fight once again. The danger in both cases is that humanity will take the fall!
What can people expect on January 21, 2012 at Pfalztheater Kaiserslautern and after?
A real Fantasy Epos with exciting characters and great locations, it´s about the eternal conflict of good and evil, where a seemingly hopeless love story emerges. The whole thing is wrapped up into epic almost cineastic music. I thinkVanden Plas has taken it even further than with productions in the past.
Andy, you will perform the character of Andrej, how do you prepare for it vocally?
Practise practise ... hahaha... up to 14 hours every day! But that is not even the whole picture. Singing that stuff while wrestling demons and doing sword fight choreographies, this is the real challenge!
Andy, did you have vocal training for musicals, or how did you become a theater performer?
I was lucky! I was discovered by Michael Vosberg for the theater and I did a good job in the first productions. That got around quickly and therefore I could gain a better foothold also in this scene.
Who will be performing the other characters? Could you introduce the crew a bit?
Goddess Meruhe -Astrid Vosberg
Her opponent, the Norse god Loki: - Alexander Franzen/Randy Diamond
Maria ,Andrej´s true love - Julia Steingass
Abu Dun, Andrej´s faithful companion – O.J Lynch
the Black Knight - Manuel Lothschütz
Frederick, Andrej´s foster son - Saltatio Mortis Fronter Alea der Bescheidene / Denis Rudisch
Dracula- Madjej Salomon /Randy Diamond
Countess Bathory – Gertjie Nissen
Inquisitor Domenicus: Alexis Wagner
Is there any option to get all 13 novels on stage, in case the first part is successful, or do you just focus on „Blutnacht“ right now and don´t think about sequels yet?
I think that would not make sense. That was also a point I had when talking with Wolfgang at our first meeting. This is why we had to come up with a story within the already existing story, to get the wide audience hooked.
I can imagine that this project is keeping you busy, but how about a follow-up to your CD „The Seraphic Clockwork“, any plans for that, or does that have to wait?
We have and had some plans but those are on ice now, as the next thing will be the first DVD Vanden Plas live in Atlanta release, then the next Hohlbein projekt will be up, and this is of course the priority rather than a sequel to Seraphic!!
Thanks a lot for your time and all the best for your premiere. And all the best for Vanden Plas, too.
Thank you for your patience!!!