Tucholskys Spiegel (Tucholsky’s Mirror) does not relate a linear storyline, but rather shows stations from Tucholsky’s life in a kaleidoscope of 13 scenes:
I. December 1935. Quotes from Tucholsky’s works stand for his popularity and dissemination. And yet: “You will not live to see Christmas 1935.”
II. From childhood to fame as an author, Tucholsky is accompanied by aggressive anti-Semitism.
III. Tucholsky’s father gives his young son a typewriter. Kurt becomes a Berlin chronicler, between music hall dance and military drill, on the eve of the First World War. He is drafted into the army and meets his first wife, Else Weil.
IV. Tucholsky and Else fall in love and travel to idyllic Rheinsberg. Their love fades in the urban jungle of Berlin.
V. As an author, satirist, and voice of warning against the war, Tucholsky distinguishes himself in publisher Siegfried Jacobson’s Weltbühne. Each of his pseudonyms – Ignaz Wrobel, Theobald Tiger, Peter Panter, and Kaspar Hauser – represents an aspect of his personality.
VI. Tucholsky reflects upon his role in the First World War and reproaches himself for cowardice. He is a witness to the altercation between the satirist Karl Kraus and Countess Ida von Lilienbach. In his magazine Die Fackel, Kraus published a letter by the imprisoned Rosa Luxemburg. The countess derides Kraus and the prisoner in a very angry letter to the editor. Rosa Luxemburg foresees her assassination.
VII. Tucholsky continues to write against rearmament and militarism. He meets his second wife, Mary Gerold.
VIII. In Berlin of the 1920s, the Tucholskys dance, along with the cabaret girls, on the volcano.
IX. Dr. jur. Tucholsky has long since converted from Judaism to Protestantism. Yet the anti-Semitic attacks against him intensify. His life in Germany is no longer safe. Tucholsky ends his journalistic work in Jacobsohn’s Weltbühne and moves with Mary Gerold to Paris.
X. In Paris, the Tucholskys are only able to catch their breath for a short time. From the fatherland, from which he is trying to recover, he receives a visit from his satirical figure “Herr Wendriner,” an upper-class German Jew. Tucholsky sings self-deprecatingly of himself as a squawking peacock.
XI. Tired and in bad health, Tucholsky seeks comfort with the physician Hedwig Müller. However, the relationship does not last long.
XII. Tucholsky bids farewell from Mary Gerold, Else Weil, and Hedwig Müller. He goes into exile in Sweden and from there looks upon a disintegrating Europe.
XIII. Catchwords from Tucholsky’s life and his various identities pass before his eyes. In the mirror, he encounters his alter ego. Tucholsky destroys the mirror.
The composer is not shy. He uses ambitious vocal and orchestral clusters, Avant-Garde techniques and then a lovely alto flute solo, A jazz band plays 20’s music with the sound of the 80’s, the singers bring water glasses to mystical sound field and use their mouths as percussion instruments.
Single words from a phrase pass from voice to voice ,the ensemble passages are clean,a romantic duet, aria like passages, all done with a pure pleasing sound. A joy to hear.
A good opera that appeals to the mind, heart and ear and deserves to be heard again.
Neues Deutschland (Irene Constantin)
My criteria as a critic is simple… goose bumps or not…this is not often the case with modern music…an exception is James Reynolds score. From 20’s jazz to threatening contemporary ,
atmospherically everything is there…
Tucholsky Foundation (Ian King)
From the beginning scenes, composer James Reynolds gives the direction of his chamber opera at the Rheinsberg Festival…Modern and contemporary concert music…Beginning with shrill, pointed tones that begin to sag deeper and deeper as though someone had pulled the plug on a record player until time stops…
Large intervallic leaps , a broad tonal range,intricate dynamics and long marvellous vocalise phrases …the from California, now living in Berlin, composer asks a lot of his committed ensemble…
Berlin Tagesspiegel (Hans Ackermann)
The surreally seeming authentic and invented scenes are accompanied by a high-contrast musical collage. Composer James Reynolds score ranges from psychedelic sound painting to coloratura singing, from contemporary opera to the musical, from Mouth Percussion up to zestful revue dances of the twenties,played by a Jazz band with sunglasses and a Hawaiian backdrop.
The chamber academy Potsdam under Marc Niemann masters this range as do the seven singers; among them Helen Schmidt with her warm alto and Cornelius Lewenberg’s supple baritone.
Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung (Antje Rösler)
The composer of the opera James Reynolds has jazz influences and has composed much music for film and radio.One can hear the complete control of his craft. There is an enormous spectrum of music to hear which the composer controls with virtousity.
The handing off of one musical phrase to the other then back to the ensemble was done perfectly by the young ensemble. A worthwhile evening . I recommend the visit.
The Potsdam Academy orchestra played the score with verve.
A kaleidoskopic mix of classical, atmospheric modernism , minimal music and jazz.
The ensemble was in great form with the multi-facetted and always singable score.
Heart and mind…who could ask for more.
Das Orchestra (Peter Buske)
The 15 musicians of the ChamberAcademy Potsdam with only 5 strings, much percussion, piano and synthesiser present the complicated but always tonally approachable score, with jazz elements, clusters and Minimal Musik with lightning like precision.
The public showed its appreciation with long applause.
Opera Glass (G. Helbig)
You can hear quite excellent craft. Reynolds often lets the eight singers sing in ensemble, which gives vocal "sound clouds". A jazz band is driven in twice, consisting of musicians of the orchestra. Reynolds has also composed several new motifs that are varied in minimal music fashion.There is an enormous musical spectrum to be heard, the composer mastered all of this with virtousity.
kulturradio (Clemens Goldberg)