A Última Quimera   1999

based on a poem by Brazilian poet Augusto dos Anjos ( 1884 - 1914 )
music, voice and acting  Mendel Hardeman
original format  Stage performance with voice, microtonal pipe organ and electronic soundtrack

The poem - in Portuguese - talks about decay, and the feelings of total loss and complete desolation experienced by a dead person. In "A Última Quimera", this poem itself starts rotting away, dragging along the audience and the poet himself.


Iguais às linhas perpendiculares
Caíram, como cruéis e hórridas hastas,
Nas suas 33 vértebras gastas
Quase todas as pedras tumulares!

A frialdade dos círculos polares,
Em sucessivas atuações nefastas,
Penetrara-lhe os próprios neuroplastas,
Estragara-lhe os centros medulares!

Como quem quebra o objeto mais querido
E começa a apanhar piedosamente
Todas as microscópicas partículas,

      Ele hoje vê que, após tudo perdido,
      Só lhe restam agora o último dente
      E a armação funerária das clavículas!

This was my first publicly presented composition / performance ever. Based on the sonet above, it consisted of 3 parts. The first part is a prelude played on the Enharmonic pipe organ (48-tone microtonal) which nowadays stands in Leverkusen. It consists of a sequence of 7 long, shivering chords, which are played in a loop. They fade in and sound for about 3 minutes. As they slowly fade out, a light turns on at the center of stage. I come up dressed in a long robe made of rough burlap, and stand still in front of a microphone, with my back to the audience. I then recite the poem, titled "Decay", which talks about the feelings and thoughts of an individual, long after his death, when he sees what little remains of him. The last phrases could be translated as:

           Like one who breaks his object most beloved
           and piously starts picking up
           each single one of the minuscule particles,
           He now sees that, after everything being lost
           all that is left is the last one of his teeth,
           and the funeral frame of the collarbones

Right after that the hall is completely dark, and a 4-channel tape starts running. The electronic composition was originally made on old-fashioned 1/4" analogue tape. It consisted of my voice, cut up, reciting the same poem on one channel, while on the others slowly a cloud of sound was building up, made of endlessly re-recorded short bits of the poem. The continuous recording, playing, and again recording of the same cut-up material, in an always increasing amount of layers, slowly creates a very dirty wavering drone, extremely harsh and agressive, which after some time starts speeding-up and thus wavering into higher pitches, until it disappears into rhe realm of the unhearable, ultrasound.
While the noise vanishes we start hearing the opening organ chords again, now played in reverse. The light on center stage fades in again, extremely slowly. You see me standing, still on the same place, but now turned towards the audience. But as the light increases, you realize my head has dried out to become a white skull.
The organ chords fade out slowly. A tear comes rolling out of one of the eye-cavities of the skull. Suddenly the body shivers. It loses balance and slowly falls over, towards the audience. The skull hits the ground with a bang and scatters around in a thousand pieces.
After the floor has been cleared the concert goes on with other, more cheerful pieces of my colleagues. But the outlines of the skull remain visible on the floor, in a white sticky texture, on the place where it hit the ground.

screening history
march 99, Korzo Theater, Den Haag
02.04.99, Muziekcentrum de IJsbreker, Amsterdam
11.06.99, Blue Loft, Breda

◊ Caress

◊ Kyrie Eleison


◊ a Tree for Glenn Gould

◊ Um Homem e uma Cruz

◊ Via Crucis

◊ The Cup

◊ Epilogue to Orpheus

◊ Harpsichorpheus

◊ Sysif's Song

◊ Dark Blue Horizon

◊ Times and Tides

◊ Unholy Vessels



◊ 7 short attempts to
    write a piece for violin

◊ Reveal thyself Alighieri

◊ Last days of a cross

◊ A Última Quimera

◊ the Singing Camera

◊ Het Dierenparadijs

◊ Tattooed Tongues

◊ Slowly turning narrative

◊ Planecrash

◊ A View on Beauty
Mendel Hardeman arquivo 1999-2006
o olho que canta