Hi-lo Fide-lio: Wunder mir ist so bar

This work for orchestra and 3 channel tape, with audience participation is based on the canonic vocal quartet in Beethoven’s opera, Fidelio. The title of this number in Fidelio is Mir ist so wunderbar, and the title of my work can be seen as a tongue-in-cheek variant on it. At the same time my title also refers to the nature and inspiration for this multi-media work.

One aspect of making a sound and performance work based on Beethoven’s original materials and historical recordings from the 1940s is to engage the sonic sensations of these various manifestations of what we come to recognize as Beethoven’s Mir ist so wunderbar.

The original work’s title was jumbled up in my mind as I was reading it while trying to recall the little German that I know -  its grammar and vocabulary. At the same time, I was amused at how the words or the different sequence of words could suggest different meanings through the enunciation of the words.  This peculiar half amnesiac process prompted the formation of the title for my work; a quick Google translation yielded: ‘wonder I feel so cash’. I also thought it roughly sounded with half-German like: ‘Wonder (why) I am so blah!’ This fun sounding title actually also reflects my compositional process and creative impetus.

To add to this, one can read the main title, ‘Hi-Lo Fide-Lio’ as a cutesy reference to a very contemporary Asian popular cultural phenomenon which became now quite global: Hello Kitty. As an Asian I have never seen ‘Hello Kitty’ as Asian in reference but have always thought of it as an imaginative Asian simulation of a western cartoon character. However now that it has gone global, it is very much seen as very Asian in all aspects, especially the ‘kawaii’ or ‘cute’ quality. Of course, given the various presentations of Fidelio – historical, urtext-ual, memories, half-remembered, idealistical – I am punning the title(s) by combining and composing a range musical and sonic materials of high and low fidelity to the original, if there can be ever one.

I hope this work, in its experience through participation, will begin a listening and contemplative quest for us to seek this ‘original’ Beethoven.



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